Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in favour of the report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
I would like to begin by pointing out that the committee conducted a thorough study of the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, as well as the very positive economic impact it will have on Canada's agricultural sector.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food heard from many witnesses who painted a complete picture of agriculture in Canada and who said they welcome the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, especially considering the new opportunities it will provide to our agriculture sector.
The committee presented the House with an exhaustive report on the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement that included five major recommendations.
My comments will touch on the second recommendation, which reads as follows:
...that the Government of Canada continue its strong defence of supply-management to promote sustained growth and profitability in the supply-managed sectors of the economy.
Canadian dairy and farm producers are innovative and supply consumers every day. These industries contribute over $30 billion to the Canadian economy, in both rural and urban areas.
These industries also create thousands of jobs in Canada and help keep the economy strong and stable.
Supply management is vital to thousands of family farms in Canada, and it has served the interests of Canadian farmers, processors and consumers very well for more than 40 years. That is why the government continues to support the current supply management system.
However, the NDP did not even mention the issue of supply management in its 2011 election campaign. In fact, the NDP does not seem to know that agriculture and farmers are the main engines of the Canadian economy.
Yesterday, the NDP announced that it would again vote against the fundamental interests of producers, especially those of the Quebec producers they represent, by voting against Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, and the access it will provide to seed technologies.
Our government supports supply management. We have always supported supply management, and we will continue to support supply management. At the same time, our government continues to pursue extensive international trade initiatives. This is vital to Canada's exporting farmers, who depend on trade and a strong Canadian economy.
Over the past nine years, we have concluded 10 free trade agreements that have facilitated trade with more than 40 countries. Our government has negotiated and signed these free trade agreements, all the while maintaining Canada's supply management system.
In fact in 2013, under our Conservative government, we reached over $50 billion in export trade deals with our agriculture and food industry. A recent Farm Credit Canada report highlighted Canada's agricultural exports as accounting for 30% of GDP, the second largest contributor to Canada's economic growth.
It is clear that our free trade negotiations and our upholding of supply management benefit the economy and strengthen our agricultural industry. The opposition, however, has opposed almost every initiative we have brought forward to strengthen trade and increase Canadian exports.
The NDP members have even said that, if given the chance, they promise to repeal international trade agreements to which Canada is a party. Of course, they will never be given that chance.
Farmers across the country, particularly those in the Quebec NDP ridings, support free trade because it is good for agriculture, good for Canada, and good for our economy.
The comprehensive economic and trade agreement is the most ambitious trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement. With these two free trade agreements, Canada would be one of the few countries in the world to have preferential access to the world's two largest economies. These economies account for approximately 800 million of the world's most affluent customers.
The Canada-EU trade agreement would allow Canadian exports to benefit from duty-free access into the EU market. This would make Canadian products more competitive and provide our exporters with a significant advantage over their competitors.
The Canada-EU trade agreement trade agreement has been welcomed by many in the agricultural industry. Wally Smith, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada said:
We have some of the finest and best artisanal cheese in the world, without a doubt, and we can compete with anyone in the world....
The Grain Farmers of Ontario said:
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will benefit Ontario, and Canadian, corn, soybean, and wheat farmers.
Canada's beef industry has also welcomed this agreement:
Once ratified and implemented, CETA will provide new duty-free access for 64,950 tonnes of Canadian beef - 50,000 tonnes of which is new quota - totally[sic] nearly $600 million annually.
The Canada-EU trade agreement is now signed, and stakeholders across Canada are delighted; yet the NDP still will not say if it agrees with stakeholders, even its own stakeholders, and supports this agreement as signed.
It is most regrettable, even shameful, when a political party does not even listen to its own stakeholders.
Mr. Jim Laws, executive director of the Canadian Meat Council, summed up the benefits best when he said:
CETA will result in higher incomes for farmers, increased competitiveness for processors, more job opportunities for workers, greater choice for consumers, and higher tax revenues for municipalities.
As a result of the government's consultations with many stakeholders across Canada, we know that farmers, dairy producers, provincial producers and associations, cheese producers and importers and the provincial governments may have concerns about the Canada-EU trade agreement.
The government will keep the promises it made to dairy farmers in the event that their productivity is negatively affected by the Canada-EU agreement.
As the Prime Minister said in October 2013, the federal government is firmly committed to closely monitoring the potential effects of the agreement. We could, if necessary, provide compensation if the agreement were detrimental to farmers.
Furthermore, under the terms of the Canada-EU trade agreement, Canada's supply management system will remain strong. The three pillars of the national supply management system—production control, import controls and price controls—are still in place and will remain in place.
Canadian farmers want to be competitive. Quebec farmers also want to be competitive. How would the NDP explain to the farmers in their ridings who are in favour of this agreement that they will not support the Canada-EU trade agreement?
Once again the NDP members are not listening to those they represent. They have pro-export and pro-trade stakeholders who want the NDP to support this agreement. The time is now for the NDP to listen to farmers, listen to their stakeholders, listen to their constituents, and vote in favour of the Canada-EU trade agreement.
Canadian farmers need a final answer from the NDP. Will it support the text of this trade agreement or not?
I have talked about how this agreement is supported by farmers and how supply management would remain intact with this agreement. We have discussed this at the agriculture committee and in this House, yet the NDP cannot make up its mind if it supports free trade and supply management.
I encourage all members of this House, particularly those of the NDP, to support this agreement and supply management.
That is why I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: "the First Report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, presented to the House on Thursday, March 27, 2014, be not now concurred in but that, in view of the subsequent conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and its final text having been published, the Report be referred back to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food with instruction that it amend the same so as to recommend that the Agreement represents an appropriate balance between creating opportunities for agricultural and food exporters and maintaining the system of supply management and, therefore, Canada's free trade agreement with the European Union should be implemented as negotiated.".