moved that Bill C-281, An Act to establish a National Local Food Day, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise today for third reading of my bill, Bill C-281, to create a national local food day the Friday before Thanksgiving every year.
For those at home who are not familiar with private members' bills or how they work, when we become a member of Parliament, our name go into a hat. There were 338 names put into a hat. Names are drawn out and whichever spot our name comes up in becomes the number of our bill. I was about 111 with respect to private members' bills.
The first introduction of my bill was on June 1 of 2016, and then it was almost two years later, May 30, that my bill was debated at second reading. A number of members of Parliament from all parties gave some really inspiring speeches about how important local food was in their ridings. I very much thank them for that.
From there, the bill went to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and it was approved unanimously on June 20. I would like to thank the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford for his support at the agriculture committee.
Why is local food important and why is there support right across Canada for my bill? I will start locally.
In the summer of 2018, I went on a farmers' market tour around my riding. My riding is 64,000 square kilometres and there are a lot of communities to visit. I attended farmers' markets with my tent and table in 10 communities. In the 11th community, I had the privilege of opening the summer market. Over the course of the summer, I was in Fernie, Jaffray, Cranbrook, Creston, Salmo, Nelson, Revelstoke, Golden, Radium, Invermere and Kimberley. Everywhere I went, people were excited about local food and the national local food day bill.
Why is that? It is because local food benefits us in so many different ways. First, it is healthy. We know where it comes from when it is grown locally. It is important to food security. We do not have to import food that we grow locally, and food security is going to become a growing issue internationally, particularly with climate change. It benefits the local economy. I know the farmers' market in Cranbrook, after about three years of being in existence, was generating over $1 million a year in benefit to the economy.
Going around to the various communities this summer and participating in the farmers' markets, I met tourists from all over Canada and the world who had come to farmers' markets in local communities. Therefore, it also benefits tourism, as well as the economy and food security.
One of the fastest growing agriculture products in Canada is organic food, which people can get at farmers' markets, as well as many local grocery stores. According to Canada Organic, organic food, comprised mostly of fresh vegetables and fruit, was valued at $4.4 billion in 2017, with 66% of Canadian shoppers saying they bought organic food, and that is on the increase.
Growing food locally is also a benefit to the environment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on October 10. One of the key messages that came out very strongly from this report was that we were already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, among other changes. At the current rate of warming, the world is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.
Locally grown or harvested food has a much smaller carbon dioxide footprint than food imported from around the world. It is essential to our food security. Increasingly, locally grown food is one important way to fight climate change.
A few weeks ago during question period, a question was raised about the impact on climate change of greenhouse marijuana grow operations that used a lot of electricity and plastics. The best way to counter that from an environment perspective is for the government to give priority to outdoor marijuana grow operations. I can assure everyone that marijuana farmers in the Kootenays are ready to do their part to help save the planet.
In addition to hearing directly from people, there was a petition that circulated around the riding this summer, which again drew support from across Canada. That petition talked about the need to strengthen the connection between consumers and producers of Canadian food and the need to support our local farmers. The petition underlined that a national local food day to celebrate food is one of the most elemental characteristics of all of the cultures that populate this nation. Therefore, it called upon the Government of Canada to support the NDP's Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, and designate the Friday before Thanksgiving every year as national local food day.
We also circulated postcards. One of those postcards invited people to draw and send back to us what they thought represented local food. Three-year-old Madeleine from greater Vancouver sent me a postcard with a carrot drawn on it, and Lisa from Saskatoon sent a card back saying “Local Vegetables - Hooray!”, so there is a lot of support from that perspective.
There is also a lot of support from other organizations, including provincial governments. I will start with British Columbia's Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, who sent us a letter. It reads:
I am writing in support of Private Member Bill, C-28: An Act to establish a National Local Food Day.
...The establishment of a National Local Food Day encourages Canadians to choose local food products and supports our farmers, ranchers, fishers, hunters and food processors, while also promoting healthy living.
This is a letter from the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from Alberta, the Hon. Oneil Carlier. It says:
The Government of Alberta recognizes the tremendous contributions that the local food sector makes to a strong and diversified economy and to the quality of life of Albertans and Canadians...
I have written a letter to Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food expressing my support for your bill. I look forward to further opportunities for provincial and federal governments to work together to support our local food producers and processors, and recognize the contributions that they make to the economy, the environment, and the health and wellbeing of all Canadians.
From Manitoba, the Minister of Agriculture Ralph Eichler writes:
This letter is to express Manitoba Agriculture's support for your Private Member's Bill, C-28: An Act to Establish a National Local Food Day, which would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as “National Local Food Day”....
Having a national designated day to focus awareness of food produced in Canada, especially at a time of giving thanks, is an excellent way to celebrate food and recognize the hard work that goes into its production.
From across Canada, other supporters include the Canadian Horticultural Council, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, the Chicken Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Meat Council, the Egg Farmers of Canada, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, Restaurants Canada, food action coalitions, farmers markets, and the list goes on.
There are a number of food events across Canada. We encourage every riding, every province, to celebrate food locally as well. I will list some that are currently occurring in Canada. The national local food day complements the many local and regional farmers markets and food festivals that already take place across Canada. There are many organizations that promote Canada's culinary wealth, including World Food Day on October 16, National Food Day, Feast of Fields, the Nelson Garden Festival, Taste of the Danforth, the Shediac Lobster Festival and many more. Canadians love locally produced food and we are proud of the world-class excellence of our products. We need more opportunities to celebrate local food.
I know that each member of the House is proud of the growers, producers and harvesters in their particular part of the country. In order to help shine a light on their important contributions to food security, a healthy environment and a healthy economy, I ask that members continue their support for Bill C-281 and let it move on to the Senate. Let us join together across Canada and recognize the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as national local food day.
I very much appreciate all the support that we have had to date, and I look forward to that support continuing.