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Track Ruth Ellen

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is farmers.

NDP MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

International Trade June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister needs to stop repeating his talking points and reassure Canadians once and for all.

The Liberals cannot continue to hold Canadians in the dark when it comes to the renegotiation of NAFTA. Workers throughout the country are quickly losing confidence in the Liberal government and its ability to negotiate a good trade deal in their interest. In less than a month, the U.S. will reveal its final priorities, and still, deafening silence from the government side.

Canadians deserve a government that will stand up and fight for their jobs, so when will the government release its plans on the renegotiation of NAFTA?

International Trade June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Quebec will be in Washington today to talk about the NAFTA negotiations, and many Quebec mayors have already done likewise. Elected officials in Quebec no longer have any confidence in the federal government to conduct these negotiations.

I do not blame them after the government's failure to properly address the softwood lumber and diafiltered milk issues. Unlike those of the federal government, Quebec's priorities are clear: protect good jobs, protect supply management, and resolve the softwood lumber issue.

When will the government tell us what its priorities are for the renegotiation of NAFTA?

Dairy Industry June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, someone should tell that to Martha Hall Findlay.

The Liberals promised dairy and cheese producers compensation for losses incurred as a result of CETA. Instead, they announced a transition program that does even cover the projected losses.

The program is so disappointing to Quebec's dairy producers that the official opposition in Quebec City is asking for a six-month delay to give the federal government time to come to its senses.

Can the Prime Minister confirm today that he will fully compensate the dairy and cheese industry, yes or no?

International Trade June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States has set NAFTA renegotiation in motion, but Canadians are in the dark about the Liberals' plan.

The Liberals broke their promise to protect our supply management system, so producers and Canadians no longer trust them. There is no meaningful compensation in CETA, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, for diafiltered milk, $131 million in goods will be imported duty-free, and the list goes on.

During negotiations, will the government finally take a stand and protect Canadian jobs in supply-managed sectors?

Agriculture and Agrifood June 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it has been nearly three years since farmers lost their preferential status under the United States' Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, and they have been losing significant amounts of money for even longer than that because of this Liberal government's inaction. This issue, which has now been transferred to the Minister of Innovation, is being bounced around like a hot potato.

Our fruit and vegetable producers are tired of the government playing ping-pong with their industry.

When will the government take its responsibilities seriously and implement a payment protection system for fruit and vegetable producers?

Dairy Industry June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, with less than a month to go before the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, or CETA, comes into force, we still have no clue how the transition plan or the tariff quotas will work.

The Liberals promised to fully compensate the dairy industry for losses incurred as a result of CETA, but the amounts announced fall far short, so much so that the Quebec government says it is prepared to delay CETA’s implementation as long as there is no real compensation for the dairy industry.

When will the government act, stand up and compensate the dairy industry for losses caused by CETA?

Taxation June 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in its latest budget, the government announced changes that will raise the excise tax on alcoholic beverages. This change will hurt the beer, wine, and spirits industry.

Our wine makers are already subject to one of the highest tax rates in the world, and they are already feeling the pinch from CETA. This increase will jeopardize many Canadian jobs.

Why are the Liberals hurting these industries? Why did they not consult them? It is not too late. They can still cancel these changes.

Contribution of Ranchers and Farmers May 29th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of Motion No. 108. I want to congratulate my colleague from Bow River on his initiative in moving this motion. I am very proud to rise and talk about agriculture and agrifood.

The motion before us today highlights the contribution farmers make to protecting our lands and the environment, and calls for measures to promote the conservation of agricultural land.

The motion proposes two extremely important concepts, namely, environmental protection and the conservation of Canada's agricultural heritage. This is very timely given that we are celebrating Canada's 150th birthday this year. We will have the opportunity to talk about the history and evolution of agriculture, as well as the investments that have been made and the changes that have taken place over the years.

The motion warrants special consideration because, despite how clear it is, it gives us the opportunity to raise several issues that are important to farmers and the future of agriculture in Canada. As agriculture and agrifood critic, I think it is important to talk about the extraordinary work done by Canada's agricultural producers when it comes to protecting our environment, improving our lands, and ensuring sustainable development. With that in mind, the government needs to continue to invest more to fight climate change, working closely and in partnership with farmers, providing them with the means to protect the environment and their lands using new technology.

Recently, private member's Bill C-274 was introduced in the House of Commons. The government needs to put measures in place to encourage the transfer of family farms. This bill sought to put an end to an injustice and make it easier to transfer farms. Canada lost more than 8,000 family farms over the past 10 years. In my riding, the regional municipality of Maskinongé has lost 146 family farms since 1979. Over $50 billion in farm assets are set to change hands between 2016 and 2026. The government needs to be reminded that it missed a golden opportunity by failing to send Bill C-274 to committee for further study. The bill had the support of some 100 organizations across Canada. I would like to commend my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for his initiative.

It is very important for family farms to be transferred to members of the same family, as doing so helps preserve agricultural land and ensure the survival of agriculture across Canada. As everyone knows, agricultural lands are not renewable, and we need to do everything that we can to protect them.

The NDP is the only federal party to have consulted stakeholders from across the country when developing an agriculture strategy. This bill, this policy, supported the conservation of agricultural land and raised the very important issue of our food sovereignty. The government announced that it will be holding consultations about this policy, and I will be following this very closely.

Our vision connects Canadians from farm to fork. That is why we need to assess the whole situation and bring an integrated approach to federal policy that connects agriculture, rural development—we must not forget access to high-speed Internet in the regions—health, and income security. Adopting a pan-Canadian food strategy such as the one proposed by the NDP will ensure that young people and new farmers can access the capital and land they need to work in the agriculture sector.

Furthermore, a food strategy recognizes that the federal government has a key role to play in working with the provinces and territories to protect critical watersheds that cross provincial boundaries, to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to reduce food waste.

Essentially, a food strategy aims to ensure that everyone eats well and can access healthy and affordable food. It is important to ensuring that our agricultural communities are sustainable for generations to come and that Canadian products find growing markets both at home and abroad. We must protect our agricultural heritage because this is about food sovereignty.

I want to remind members about an issue that we debated at length in 2012. The previous Conservative Party eliminated the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration program in an omnibus bill. This was a really important program because it was responsible for rehabilitating lands affected by drought and erosion in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

We know that the previous government dismantled the program without the benefit of an environmental impact study. After it was dismantled, the pastures were transferred to the provinces. However, the problem is that, in some cases, the provinces sold the lands to private investors, and in most cases, they continue to lease them to ranchers, but at higher rates and with fewer services, all while ignoring the need to protect the environmental integrity of the Prairies.

This issue affects many stakeholders, including environmental groups, wilderness conservation groups, farmers, ranchers and young people who want to take up farming.

This issue is very important to the Prairies, but especially Saskatchewan, where there are still many pastures left to be transferred. We know that the transfers of these community pastures and lands will soon be complete, in 2018.

There is still time for the Liberal government to do something to save these prairie lands, and we are calling on it to do so.

I also want to touch on our supply management system. I think that, at one point, my most common utterances in the House of Commons were “protecting our supply management system” and “diafiltered milk”. We are asking the government to take action because concrete action is vital to protecting our supply management system. We know that the government has fallen short at times in terms of border control and protection, and that has led to financial losses for dairy producers.

Two weeks ago, the Auditor General of Canada told us that the Canada Border Services Agency should have assessed $168 million of customs duties on imports of quota-controlled goods. Producers suffered huge losses because the government fell down on border protection. Now our producers are paying the price and losing out on more revenue.

The federal government must implement concrete measures that will really make a difference and protect our supply management system to safeguard our family farms and ensure their long-term survival. Just recently, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food went to Washington. We met with a number of elected officials and explained to them why it is so important to protect our supply management system. Those were really important conversations.

We import between 8% and 10% of what we consume. The Americans import 2%. That is why it is important to have these meetings, especially with the prospect of NAFTA renegotiations looming.

Once again, I would like to congratulate the member for Bow River on moving today's Motion No. 108, which gives us an opportunity to talk about the importance of protecting agriculture in Canada.

We truly hope that the Liberal government will implement measures to facilitate the transfer of family farms and that it will invest more in the fight against climate change.

Contribution of Ranchers and Farmers May 29th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Conservative Party colleague and friend for moving Motion No. 108. I would also like to congratulate him on his speech in the House of Commons today. I am always happy to talk to the House about agriculture and how important it is.

Not long ago, we had an NDP private member's bill that would have made it easier to transfer family farms. We know that the average Canadian farmer is getting older and starting to think about retirement. The bill would have enabled farmers to transfer their farms to their children for $1. It would also have repaired a tax system injustice to facilitate the transfer of family farms. Unfortunately, the bill did not even make it to committee for detailed study.

I would like my colleague to comment on the importance of introducing measures to facilitate family farm transfers. I would also like to know if he is disappointed that all but a few Liberals voted against this important initiative to facilitate the transfer of farm businesses.

Flooding May 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, for the past few weeks, residents of Berthier—Maskinongé have been struggling to cope with flooding.

The rising flood waters have had a major impact and caused a lot of damage. Today, I would like to take the time to point out the many initiatives that have been put in place to help flood victims in Berthier—Maskinongé.

This trying time in my riding and throughout Quebec has been met with an outpouring of support and co-operation. Take, for example, SOS Inondation Mauricie, which now has over a hundred volunteers, and Éleveurs de volailles de la Rive-Nord, which bought and distributed rubber boots. Many restaurants also helped by providing volunteers with food and hot drinks. I thank them with all of my heart.

I would like to end by saying that I know that this amazing show of support will continue now that the water levels are starting to drop. I want to assure people that my team and I will be with them on the ground.