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Track Ruth Ellen

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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

Dairy Industry February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House today to mark Canada's Agriculture Day for the first time.

However, the Liberals have every reason to feel a little uncomfortable, considering the 17,700 tonnes of fine cheeses entering Canada from Europe, the completely inadequate compensation, and some very troubling signs regarding our supply management system. This is an extraordinary and special day for our farmers.

Is the minister going to repeat the same old tune or is he going to announce an outstanding, solid plan for dairy producers?

Dairy Industry February 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to protecting supply management, there was no clear and reassuring message from the Prime Minister on his trip to Washington or when he left for Europe.

What is worse, there are several indications that there will be more hits to our supply management system.

With 17,700 tonnes of fine cheeses entering Canada and ridiculously inadequate compensation, are we to understand that the Liberal government will be sacrificing our supply management system, yes or no?

International Trade February 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the survival of our family farms is a very important issue. I thank my colleague for all his work on this file and for his bill.

There are many dairy producers on the Hill today. They are asking the Prime Minister to protect family farms by voting for this bill, and they also want him to respond to their concerns about supply management in the context of the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Can the Prime Minister confirm for us today that he will protect every aspect of our supply management system when NAFTA is renegotiated?

International Trade February 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals asked Brian Mulroney to open a dialogue with the Trump administration for the renegotiation of NAFTA.

In 2014, the former prime minister gave a really frightening speech in which he recommended that our supply management system be dismantled and abolished. Last Thursday, he gave another similar speech saying that we should learn from New Zealand and Australia.

Canadians want the government to defend our supply management system. Can the government confirm today that it will defend our supply management system, and will the government tell us why it is sending a Conservative who does not believe in our supply management system—

International Trade February 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Quebec dairy producers are concerned about the Liberals' plan to renegotiate NAFTA.

That is completely understandable given the government's inaction on the diafiltered milk issue. This American product is threatening our supply management system and costing our producers millions of dollars, as is the loophole in the Canada-Europe trade agreement.

We know that the Prime Minister's promises do not mean anything, but will he confirm to Canadians today that he will defend our supply management system in the renegotiation of NAFTA?

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada Act January 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak even though I have only two minutes.

Obviously, I intend to vote in favour of Bill C-277. I want to congratulate and thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for her bill, which seeks to develop a framework on palliative care in Canada.

This bill is very important and all Canadians have been waiting for it for a long time. Many Canadians are suffering because of the lack of clear national standards. There is also a lack of funding for palliative care.

In 2014, my colleague from Timmins—James Bay moved a very important motion calling for the creation of a pan-Canadian strategy for palliative and end-of-life care.

The population in my riding is aging. Approximately 17,800 people are over the age of 65, so people have been waiting for this bill for a long time. However, now we need to walk the talk and take meaningful action. We need to develop a national framework and ensure that there is funding for it. We must be proactive. I consulted my constituents and I know that family caregivers do extraordinary work. I recently lost my grandfather and I was able to see the excellent work that is being done in the area of palliative care, but again we need to support family caregivers.

I want to once again congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton. We are really proud of her. We are also pleased to see that the Conservative Party has woken up and seen the importance of providing palliative and end-of-life care in Canada. Congratulations and thank you.

Ethics December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, instead of making every voice count, the Liberal government only seems content to hear from people when it gets $1,500 donated to the Liberal Party.

Rather than confusing questions and useless data, I will keep it simple for the Liberals. I only have a few questions.

What on earth are their democratic values? Do they want to see a country where the views of Canadians are accurately represented in Parliament, or do they want a country where the government sells its influence for cash and only wealthy Canadians are heard? Is it really that difficult?

Ethics December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the reason the Prime Minister wrote rules prohibiting preferential access is that it resembles bribery. That is also why this government denies that government business was discussed at these ultra-exclusive events.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister just clearly confirmed that not only was government business discussed but that he is the one who deems whether it is appropriate or not.

Does the Liberal government really think that Canadians do not see that conflicts of interest abound?

Agriculture and Agri-Food December 7th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government cannot be bothered to work out a better deal for Canadians in the Canada-Europe trade agreement. It is going ahead despite the fact that a number of problems remain outstanding. Like Canada's dairy producers, Canadian vintners will lose a lot of money because of this government's concessions.

When will the minister come up with a plan to help Canadian vintners cope with the negative repercussions of this trade agreement?

Income Tax Act November 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, today, I have the great pleasure of taking part in the debate on the bill introduced by my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. First of all, I want to thank my colleague for his work on this bill, his commitment, his consultations, and for listening. This is truly a bill that will improve Canadians' quality of life.

I have to admit that I was truly disappointed with the speech by my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain. I represent the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé and part of the regional municipality of Maskinongé is located in Mauricie.

My colleague from Shawinigan represents a very rural area that has hundreds of SMEs, and I know that this bill will improve the economic situation of the regions. It is really frustrating when members pull figures out of thin air, maybe out of their own pockets. I believe that everyone agrees with the principle of this bill. I hope that it will be referred to committee so we can better understand where these figures come from.

I would like to point out that this bill has widespread support from all across the country. I believe it is also important to talk about this bill in my role as agriculture and agri-food critic. I am a member of the standing committee, and we are currently studying the next policy framework. Earlier today, in fact, officials were explaining to us once again how hard it is to find people to take over. It is not easy. The price of land is going up, and access to capital is difficult, so a bill like this one is a step in the right direction.

I should explain a little about the situation facing family farms in Canada. Over the past 10 years, we have lost 8,000 family farms. It is clear that this phenomenon is far from over, and it is important that we tackle the problem head on. There are a number of things we could do, and one of them is to make it easier to transfer farms between family members.

We also know that we have an aging population, especially in the regions. The demand for people to take over these businesses is only going to increase over the next few years. Overall, we are talking about $50 billion in farm assets that will be transferred between 2016 and 2026. Therefore, this bill is very important to the farming community.

At present, farmers look at their farms as their pension fund, and as much as they would love to transfer them to a family member, it is much more advantageous to sell to a stranger than someone who is part of the family. It is really sad, and we need to correct this injustice.

Let us imagine a farm worth $10 million. That farm would be worth $1.25 million more to the farmer after tax if he sells it to a stranger rather than a member of his own family. Unfortunately, sometimes that is the choice that has to be made. Farmers have to sell to strangers instead of passing the business down from one generation to the next, because the tax rules are unfair and completely unfavourable.

The problem with high land prices is that unrelated investors often have more interest in the land itself rather than farming it. Many farmers have to face really tough choices because of this. They have to choose between their hard-earned retirement and keeping production in the family.

Let us not forget that other factors also contribute to the challenges facing our family farms. My Conservative colleague mentioned this. We can talk about the government's role in border control, the government's failure to act on the diafiltered milk issue, and the completely unfair compensation for dairy farmers and processors under CETA. That is the situation facing our farmers and artisanal cheese producers in the regions. Things are really tough.

On top of that, in other agricultural sectors, farmers are really worried about the labour shortage. As we know, in the last budget, the government allocated very little money to agriculture.

All of the measures I listed that are designed to support supply management are really in the government's hands, but it seems disinclined to act or to protect it.

As the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, a rural riding, I understand how important this bill is to the people I represent.

I would like to briefly discuss the importance of small businesses to the regions. As I said earlier, small businesses are responsible for 80% of job creation in Canada. In Quebec, and in Canada as a whole, 98% of all businesses are small and medium-sized businesses.

The NDP believes we must do everything we can to ensure that businesses operate under the best possible conditions to stay competitive in a constantly changing market. The NDP will fight to protect our jobs and our family businesses.

Small businesses are the economic heart of our regions. We all have a favourite restaurant or corner store or a salon where we like to get our hair cut, and we have to support these businesses and encourage them. This is a step in the right direction. We are proud of it. We were all elected to try to introduce good legislative change.

I believe the situation in Berthier—Maskinongé is like that in my colleagues' ridings.

Bill C-274 will improve things. It is a step in the right direction. However, let us not forget that there are other areas we must improve in order to protect the regions. For example, the government promised to lower taxes from 11% to 9%. That is a broken promise. Let us not forget how important it is to develop high speed internet in the regions. We must support our family businesses and the government has to ensure that we have all the tools we need in the next strategic plan.

Our bill is widely supported. I know that my colleague already mentioned it, but there is a list of supporters two or three pages long.

I would like to read a quote by the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture:

Simply put, if taxation barriers are not addressed, we will see fewer and fewer family farms in Canada. We support [the commitment by the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques and his colleague] to addressing these tax burdens that could cause a significant administrative burden [and] cost...

The bill also has the support of the Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec.

It is unfair. Everyone knows there is work to be done. I think that we have had a good debate so far. However, it is important to ensure that this bill gets to committee. We must have the figures and know where they come from and we must be sure to present something that is going to improve the quality of life for the people living in rural areas who support our SMEs. This bill will really change things.

We hope to have the support of the House and to at least be able to refer this bill to committee. This bill will really change things for Canadians across the country.