February 25, 1992

NDP

Joy Langan (Deputy Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Ms. Langan:

Mr. Speaker, I introduced my remarks by saying that it is a sad day when we are introducing such legislation and I even used the title of the bill. I pointed out that this is the reason why this piece of legislation just might be a tiny bit suspect. I am laying the groundwork for why I think this legislation might be a tiny bit suspect.

One of the hon. members says that I am making it a political debate. Amazing but this is politics. This is the House of Commons. Five parties are seated here. We do

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not really want to talk politics or talk about the reality of large or small p politics in this country. That is the very kind of response that alarms farmers about this kind of legislation.

This bill covers 38,000 farmers and their families, 22,900 employees of those farmers and 36,000 processing jobs. That comes to a total of lost farm production of $4.7 billion to this country and $5.5 billion in processing, for a total loss of over $100 billion to the Canadian economy.

I think that is very relevant to this bill because we are talking here about farm products marketing agencies while we have our negotiators going to GATT. We are not sure that they will be taking our best interests or the best interests of farmers to GATT. It seems rather intriguing that this bill is before the House just prior to that discussion at GATT.

The loss of our supply management system through the GATT will do to rural Canada what the free trade agreement has done to urban Canada. That is devastating. Not only the farmers in my riding are going to be devastated by a failure of protection of supply management in Canada. The people in my riding, the spinoff industries such as Buckerfield's, the suppliers, the wholesaler and the people who deliver milk, are all going to be affected by the failure of this government to uphold Canada's position at the GATT.

The minister has said that our position has remained unchanged and that they will continue to argue for protection of supply management. He has also continued to note that Canada is but one of 107 countries at GATT. If we go in figuring we are going to lose, chances are we will lose. If we go in believing in our system, believing in supply management, believing in marketing agencies, then I think it is fair and safe to say that we will in fact do a good job on behalf of our farmers.

I would urge that people take farmers veiy seriously and consider what would happen if we lose our ability in this country to produce our food, to feed our citizens. There are those who say: "Well, get rid of these marketing boards. Get rid of that whole process because the Americans will feed us cheaper". They might feed us cheaper for the first couple of years, till they make sure all of our farms have gone under, and then we had better believe that the ante will go up. If we lose our ability to feed our citizens then I think we very much risk losing our sovereignty.

February 25, 1992

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This issue is not related to a very narrow definition of Bill C-54. This issue goes far beyond this bill. That is why I am very concerned we are debating this kind of thing at this time and yet leaving farmers from all across Canada feeling at total risk that we are not taking them seriously and that we will not be serving their interests at the GATT.

I would ask that the government direct its attention to how we can best protect our farmers. Whilst the hon. parliamentary secretary feels that I have not addressed this bill, I think the whole question is inextricably intertwined. I would ask the parliamentary secretary and the government to renew their efforts to ensure that a bill like this makes sense by ensuring that we continue to have marketing boards and supply management in this country.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Maurice Brydon Foster

Liberal

Mr. Maurice Foster (Algoma):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. member from British Columbia. It reminded me of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture meeting yesterday in Vancouver. The umbrella organization for the entire country was holding its meeting. Outside that meeting at just about exactly this time 24 hours ago Vancouver time some 450 dairy, poultry and egg producers rallied to protest the lack of progress by this government.

Clearly that is tied into the legislation before the House today. This is the umbrella legislation, the National Farm Products Marketing Act, which provides for the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, the National Broiler Meat Agency, and other agencies. These producers were protesting the fact that the government has been negotiating for five and one-half years and has really accomplished very little in those GATT negotiations for an industry that involves some $10 million of economic activity for this country. It involves almost

100,000 jobs and 38,000 farmers. Yet in spite of the economic impact, let alone the fact that much of that impact is resolved into rural communities across the country, the government has made so little progress in those negotiations that Arthur Dunkel in his report of December 20 never even mentioned as a negotiating option the idea of a strengthened and clarified article XI.

Those producers are angry and frustrated that the government has failed to make any progress in those negotiations. In fact there are only five countries around

the world, some of them very important in trade terms, some less important, that are supporting Canada's position. They are calling on the Prime Minister, and I had the opportunity to speak to that rally yesterday in Vancouver, to rally the support of those five countries that support our position-the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister of Israel, South Korea and the other countries-to get a joint declaration and put to the President of the United States and to the European community countries that our bottom line is to maintain, strengthen and clarify article XI.

I believe that is what those protesters in Vancouver were saying yesterday. They want to see results, not just sweet words from the government, on this very important issue facing the entire rural Canada but especially the dairy, egg and poultry producers of this country.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Joy Langan (Deputy Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Ms. Langan:

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. The rally in Vancouver was the first of a number of activities that will be happening on the west coast. I will be attending on Thursday morning a massive rally in the Fraser Valley, on the south side of the Fraser. For those hon. members who happen to represent that area, I would suggest they might want to attend as well. I would also suggest that the Prime Minister, or certainly at the very least the Minister of Agriculture, may wish to attend. I would challenge the Minister of Agriculture to attend that rally.

We are talking about a very serious business. I think it is absolutely critical that this government get its act together, get busy and protect Canadian farmers' interests at the GATT. It is not good enough to say: "Well, we are one of 107". It is not good enough to be satisfied that only five countries are supporting us. This government claims to know how to manage the economy. This government claims to know how to organize. I would suggest it is time for it to organize and manage the economy when it comes to the farmers of this country.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Lise Bourgault

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Lise Bourgault (Argenteuil-Papineau):

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the rhetoric of the members of the opposition parties since the discussion commenced regarding the very important GATT negotiations. The first question I have in my mind is the following: Does the opposition think that Canada is alone in the process? We are saying, and we believe in this, that marketing agencies and the protection we want for farmers are as important for us as they are for them.

February 25, 1992

I want to ask the member for Mission-Coquitlam: instead of speaking, talking and saying it is so important and it is so damaging, what has she done? What has the New Democratic Party done in the international community with the Government of Canada to try to resolve this, to convince other parties? She must have contacts in her party in Europe. I am sure she does. Did she call them? Did she explain to those parties in Europe like the Green Party how important it is? I am asking her to tell me what they have done to help us and to help the farmers instead of just talking about it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Joy Langan (Deputy Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Ms. Langan:

Mr. Speaker, the member from the government side thinks that talking about protecting farmers is rhetoric. I really appreciate that kind of attitude.

What have we done? First of all the job is that of the government. When one is elected to govern-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

Some hon. members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Joy Langan (Deputy Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Ms. Langan:

Let me finish. When one is elected to govern one has a duty and a responsibility to lead, which this government has not done.

In terms of what we have done, we have certainly worked with our farmers. My colleague, the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, if the hon. member were interested in listening, did in fact represent the case for Canadian farmers in Belgium on an inter-parliamentary tour. He spoke very strongly and very supportively toward expanding the parameters of article XI and met with a number of people there to try to influence that.

We as a party have talked to our colleagues in Socialist International as well. The government can stand here, be high and mighty, and ask opposition members: "What have you done?" But my question is: "What have they done for fanners in Canada?"

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Murray Cardiff (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Murray Cardiff (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture):

Mr. Speaker, coming back to the legislation that we are dealing with today, Bill C-54, does the hon. member support legislation that would allow organized marketing agencies to collect a levy against imported products coming into this country?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Joy Langan (Deputy Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Ms. Langan:

Mr. Speaker, I am really delighted that questions and comments have gone on so long. I have

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noted that when I want to get up and answer questions and comments, it is over like that.

I think our party has made its position absolutely clear on that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken (Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands):

Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed the latest exchange. To hear the New Democratic Party say it has no responsibility to do anything because it is not elected to government indicates its total lack of expectation that it will ever be elected to government.

We in this party take our responsibility seriously and have tried to assist in the situation of the Canadian farmer. We regard the situation in which they find themselves as very serious and one about which members of Parliament have an obligation to try to do something. We have striven to do that in the limited ways available to us as members of the opposition.

We have been warning about the problems with this arrangement for some time, but our pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears. We have taken the view that the government has not been assiduous in promoting the interests of Canadian farmers in these talks. Frankly I think what happened is that the government finally woke up to the fact that it got itself into serious trouble and is now trying to salvage the situation by making it look as though every action is being taken to save our farmers. I hope it is successful. I think every member of this House shares that optimism.

In talking about Bill C-54 today, I want to indicate what I think my colleague from Lambton-Middlesex indicated in his speech the other day. We have been saying all along that while there is nothing in this bill that we find objectionable per se, we are concerned as to what is the real purpose of this legislation.

We are concerned that what the government is trying to do by this bill is to change the rules in relation to Canadian agriculture so that if the GATT talks are successful in leading to a collapse of Canadian agriculture as we now know it, there will be this mechanism in place to do what little good it can do in the circumstances. In other words, this bill will pick up the pieces and try to make it appear that these marketing boards still exist when they are unable to do anything about price.

February 25, 1992

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That is the thrust of our concern about the bill. I submit, on the evidence, the facts and the statements by the ministers who have been involved so far in the discussion, that there is every reason for Canadians and Canadian farmers to be concerned about what is going on.

I understand the situation to be that the current proposals at GATT appear to be the final position. Of course they have not been completely finalized at this moment. They would lead to a tariffication of the barriers that basically prohibit the entry of American dairy and poultry products into Canada. That prohibition is what allows our marketing boards to operate within Canada to ensure a reasonable price to the consumer and a fair return to the Canadian agriculture industry. The system has been remarkably successful from all the accounts I have read and from all of the farm groups I have met with, as small as they are in my riding, but significant.

I have every reason to believe that the system has worked extremely well for Canada and for Canadians. It has guaranteed us a fully adequate supply at a reasonable price. We have in Canada top quality products manufactured by very efficient producers who are becoming increasingly efficient and a safe and dependable supply at all times.

The Canadian supply of these products is the envy of the world. There are few other countries that are able to match the Canadian experience in terms of the factors I mentioned: availability, dependability and quality of supply. All of those have been provided by our farmers under the existing marketing boards.

I understand that the current GATT proposal to allow for these organizations is a change whereby the protection they have against foreign imports would be tariffied. Significant tariffs would be increased which under the GATT agreement would be reduced by a fixed percentage over a five or six year period.

Then the problem arises, as I understand it, with the free trade agreement. The government has not stressed this, of course, in its discussions. It has not really told Canadians what will happen if the current GATT negotiation proceeds to completion in accordance with the existing proposal. I can understand its reluctance because, of course, what it has do is shoot a few holes in the much vaunted free trade agreement. It has to somehow convince Canadians and Canadian farmers that it is not

just the GATT negotiations that will have put the boot to the marketing boards in Canada. It is also a fact of the free trade agreement.

As I understand the way it works, the tariffs will have to be eliminated over a period of time under that agreement. They are not just reduced, they are eliminated. I have read this in some of the newspaper accounts describing the GATT round. If that is incorrect, I would like to hear about it from the government. I would like to hear some statements on this because we have had no explanation as to how this will work.

The indication I have from the material I have read on this is that some special deal will have to be worked out with the United States government as part of the free trade deal to avoid the phase out of those tariffs completely. Of course, it is that phase out that would destroy completely the marketing boards as we now know them.

The tariffication would be difficult. The reduction in tariffs would be more difficult. The elimination of the tariffs with the United States would be a disaster for our farm community and they are understandably upset and concerned.

That takes me back to the free trade deal. As Your Honour will recall, we in this House in 1988 stood and opposed the government's free trade agreement. We said it was a bad deal for Canada. Indeed, the deal that was negotiated was, in our view, and I have certainly expressed this view in the election and I still say today, a sell-out of Canadian interests. It was a disaster for this country. It was badly negotiated.

If Canadian fanners are apprehensive about the possible ramifications of the GATT deal which this government has been negotiating, think how they will feel if they realize that there is an important negotiation now to take place with the United States to protect the Canadian marketing boards from this detariffication process that should follow under the free trade deal.

The Canadian farmers in particular know the bargaining record of this government. It has been rotten, just a disgrace. This government goes into negotiations with no aims or objectives. It goes in with the sole aim of making a deal, a deal at any price. We know what happened in the free trade negotiations. We remember how Simon Reisman, the government's great negotiator, went off to Washington and came back to Ottawa a few days before

February 25, 1992

the deadline and said: "There is no deal". We can only speculate as to why he said that. But I would be willing to wager that the reason was that he was given a set of parameters. The government said: "You cannot give away this, this or this". He came back to Ottawa and said: "Unless I give away some of these things, there is no deal. My mandate is exhausted. I have bargained everything I could bargain. You told me I couldn't give up on this, this and this, so I can't make a deal. The talks are off".

We know what happened. Then we had this minister, the wonderful Minister of Finance at the time, and one of his colleagues-I think she was Minister of Employment and Immigration who is now Secretary of State for External Affairs-go to Washington and make a deal.

We can only speculate that they gave away some of the things on Simon's list that he was not supposed to give away in order to buy the Americans off and make a deal. I will bet they gave away everything on the list because the Americans must have realized that this government was desperate for a deal.

It had invested all kinds of political value into a free trade deal and it could not really back out at this stage. Off they went and made a deal.

You would think, Mr. Speaker, that the chief negotiator, having been given a list of no-nos would then quit. Having the floor cut out from underneath him, having said: "No, I can't give you this," and then to have ministers come into the talks at the last minute and say: "Yes, you're getting all this," a chief negotiator worth his salt, with any sense of respectability would have quit, but he did not. He stayed on. Then he went on the campaign trail for the government to sell the free trade deal.

I recall in the months leading up to the election how Simon came to Kingston. He had a large public meeting at the Ambassador Hotel. He made a speech at this meeting. In the course of the speech he praised the then member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, who was a minister in the Conservative government, who had been giving him the instructions in these talks. He said what a great job she had done. He made speeches about how the critics of this deal were wrong. He listed all their

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criticisms and refuted the criticisms by reading chapter and verse from his deal. He said that these critics were all wrong.

What were some of the criticisms that the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra used to put out? I remember he said that there was insufficient protection for Canada under this deal. Here we have a perfect example of it. Here we are in GATT talks where there may be a deal that is thoroughly undermined by the free trade agreement.

In other words, whatever deal is made at GATT will be damaging for Canadian farmers, but not half so damaging as the effects of the free trade agreement on that deal, unless a special exemption is arranged with the United States. In other words, we have to go back to the table asking for more because of Simon and this government's failure to defend Canada's interest in the original talks.

Yet, and this is the most shocking thing, this man who was presumably a public servant at the time-he was certainly working for the government as some kind of ambassador for the free trade deal, I think he had that status-went about the country in the course of an election campaign making statements about the Leader of the Opposition.

I have here some quotations of things that he said. In The Toronto Star, November 16,1988, five days before the election, it states: "Former free trade negotiator Simon Reisman has accused Liberal Leader John Turner of being a traitor to his country for attacking the proposed deal". Imagine, he said, and this is a direct quote from him in the same article: "These are lies that debase longstanding public traditions in this country, lies that are designed to frighten and confuse Canadian voters".

One of the longstanding traditions in this country is that public servants do not meddle in political matters. Mr. Reisman had no trouble dispensing with that particular principle when he got talking about his free trade deal. He said, and I quote from The Globe and Mail on November 17, four days before the election:

"I think the man who is selling out Canada is John Timer", Mr. Reisman said on a Toronto CBC news show, "because he's reckless, he's betraying the country and he's playing with the future of our children and our grandchilden. And I challenge him, I accuse him of being a traitor to Canada for saying the things he is saying".

February 25, 1992

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I could go on quoting all these sorts of things from Mr. Reisman, but I think I do not need to because we now have Mr. Reisman singing a different tune. He has finally wakened up to the fact that he sold Canada down the drain. In The Ottawa Citizen on January 18 of this year, we have Mr. Reisman calling the Americans "thugs". The free trade negotiator who spent months in bed with the Americans in Washington selling our country out now refers to his former friends as thugs. When I say he was in Washington with these people, he had the full connivance and support of the Tory cabinet because they were down there doing the same thing.

He says, and I am quoting from the article now: "Punitive trade actions against Canada are dangerously close to outright violations of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement say the two top Canadian negotiators of the deal".

I do not like to use this kind of language but he said: "The Americans are bastards; they are behaving like real thugs these days and protecting their interests". This is a quote from Mr. Reisman. His language seems to be intemperate.

The right hon. member for Vancouver Quadra in 1988 was a traitor because he criticized the deal. Now Mr. Reisman says that the Americans are thugs and calls them other unpleasant names because they are taking full advantage, full advantage I may say, of all the rights they acquired under the deal, rights that Mr. Reisman and the Tory cabinet sold out, Canadians rights they sold away. They were warned that the free trade deal was a bad deal, that there was a lack of protection for Canada in it, by the Leader of the Opposition at the time and by members of this caucus who spoke against this deal across this country. Now they are finally realizing that maybe the right hon. member for Vancouver Quadra was right. Maybe he was not the liar. Maybe it was somebody else. Maybe he was not the traitor. Maybe it was somebody else. What is shocking is that there has been no public apology for those shocking statements. Mr. Reisman was not the only one who called the Leader of the Opposition a liar.

Then there was the Minister of Finance who referred to him as a liar. The hon. member for Broadview- Greenwood remembers that well because he is a Toronto area member, as is the then Minister of Finance. He made statements accusing the right hon. member for

Vancouver Quadra of being a liar. We know that there was a concerted effort by the Conservative Party to discredit the then Leader of the Opposition in the course of the free trade debate. It was felt that if he could be discredited then his arguments on free trade would carry less weight and the Conservative government could get re-elected.

They set out on a deliberate smear campaign to destroy the credibility of the right hon. member for Vancouver Quadra, led by the then Minister of Finance in one of the most shocking episodes in recent Canadian political history and supported fully by a public servant.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Dennis Joseph Mills

Liberal

Mr. Mills:

Don't forget the full-page ads.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken (Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

The hon. members says: "Don't forget the full-page ads". I quite agree.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Maurice Brydon Foster

Liberal

Mr. Foster:

Three or four million dollars.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken (Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

The hon. member from Algoma says: " It is $3 million or $4 million". It was much more than that. The studies indicate that it was at least $15 million if not $20 million. It was a fabulous sum of money, all raised by Conservative government supporters who paid good money to run advertisements in the newspapers of Canada to hoodwink Canadians into thinking that the free trade deal that our friend Simon negotiated was a good deal for Canada.

Everyone knows that it was a very bad deal for Canada. It is the reason why Canadian farmers are concerned to the point of distraction today. They know that if the government does not sell them out in GATT, it will sell them out under the free trade deal that it has negotiated. They are very apprehensive that the people who will do the negotiating to save the Canadian government's position under the free trade deal when such negotiations are under way are the people sitting on the other side of this House who have a proven record of incompetence, inability to negotiate anything worth while and who are a disgrace to this country and should get out so that we can have Canadians elect a new government and get on with the business of this country in a proper and efficient way.

We cannot have this government back to the negotiating table. It does not know what it is doing at the negotiating table. It will give anything away to make a deal and to please its friends, the Americans. We have to remember that the Americans are our best friends and

February 25, 1992

they are our closest neighbours. But our leader says: "Business is business".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

Order, please. I may remind the hon. member that we are still discussing Bill C-54. The Chair is trying to be as flexible as possible, but perhaps the hon. member would bear in mind that we are still on Bill C-54.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken (Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I realize that. As I said at the beginning of my speech, my comments on free trade are relevant because the proposed legislation alters the obligations of marketing boards.

I tied it directly into that because these marketing boards are under attack because of free trade. I have gone off the track slightly to talk about free trade because it is very important to the future success of these marketing boards.

I have tried to point out in the clearest possible terms that the marketing boards will fail unless an amendment is made under the free trade deal to protect them. The current GATT talks are going to result in a tariffication of the protection that is built in for these marketing boards. They will be diminished and eliminated under the free trade deal unless arrangements are made.

That is why it ties in. These boards will become empty shells unless some other arrangement is made. The government should be under the gun and apprehensive but we do not see any sign of that. The Minister of Finance went out to speak to the crowd last week. His assurances that he was fighting his best for their interests were great. Unfortunately it appears that his fight was taken up rather late in the game.

We on this side of the House have condemned the government for its actions. We wished it had acted with greater alacrity from the outset to protect Canadian farm interests. We regret that its inability to negotiate has resulted in a bad deal at GATT. It has resulted in a bad deal under the free trade agreement and I am sure I could list other negotiations that have been very badly handled. The Public Service strike that resulted from their botched negotiations last year comes to mind.

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I am sorry that Canada is saddled with a government as weak and ineffective as this one. I wish that today, before the budget comes down, the Prime Minister would go to Rideau Hall and advise the Governor General it is time the country got a chance to pass its judgment on these people in an election.

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Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Murray Cardiff (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cardiff:

Mr. Speaker, I would tell the hon. member not to count on it.

In respect to Bill C-54, the Farm Products Marketing Agencies Act, it was very heart warming to hear the member mention that he supported the bill in principle. I would be very disappointed if I was a producer in this country listening to the comments being made. Many producers of products across this country believe this legislation will help them in the promotion of their product and for the use of Canadian products. Very little is being said in respect to what this legislation is.

The government has been asked for this legislation since 1984 and perhaps before that. We are the first government that has offered to bring something forward for the marketing agencies, not just the supply management agencies. They have their certain ways of collecting funds, but we have many other agencies that do an exceptional job in the promotion of farm products across this country. They have not been able to charge checkoffs on imported goods coming into this country. They believe, as we do, it is very essential that we make these amendments to this act.

If the member wishes to have a debate on GATT, let us use an allotted day and have a full-fledged discussion where all people can participate. Let us stick to the legislation we are dealing with right now.

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Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Howard Edward Crosby

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howard Crosby (Halifax West):

Mr. Speaker, it would take half an hour or more to refute the litany of misconceptions advanced by the member for Kingston and the Islands on the subject of the farm products marketing agencies. Let me deal with one of two. It appears to me this is a city lawyer's view of agriculture in Canada.

He spoke about Simon Reisman. These remarks were explained fully in an interview with Peter Gzowski on Canada's national broadcasting system, CBC radio. He indicated very clearly that he was talking about U.S. traders in relation to Canadian traders. He was not talking about government officials. He was not talking about the U.S. officials and the Canadian officials that negotiated the free trade agreement. It was the lack of

February 25, 1992

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goodwill on behalf of the traders. We can expect that sort of thing in trading wars as the member should know.

Let me deal with another point he made about marketing boards and the free trade agreement. During the free trade agreement debate the agriculture community raised the concern that they were threatened in relation to marketing boards by the provisions of the free trade agreement. We said there was no threat and they would be protected.

Three years have elapsed since the signing of the free trade agreement and marketing boards are flourishing in Canada. Indeed we saw 30,000 beneficiaries of that very system on Parliament Hill. What are they afraid of? They are not afraid of the free trade agreement but the GATT negotiations. It was the Liberals who stood in this House of Commons and said to scrap free trade and rely on GATT, GATT will bring us everything we need in the international field. Now they are coming back and saying GATT cannot be trusted and we have to get rid of GATT. They want to get rid of free trade, get rid of GATT, get rid of everything and isolate Canada. It will not matter about marketing boards because there will be nobody to buy anything.

I just want the member for Kingston and the Islands to answer one simple question. I know there are Liberal business people across this country who want to hear his answer, Liberal Party supporters who trade internationally. If article XI is not changed in the manner he directed and if the wishes he presented to this House today are not granted in the GATT negotiations, does the member recommend to the Government of Canada that it withdraw from GATT?

The Liberal Party members who support the member want to hear his answer. Does he recommend withdrawal from GATT?

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Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken (Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to answer the hon. member. I will not recommend that Canada withdraw from GATT unless additional information comes to light that we do not have now.

Knowing this government's secret deals, it will not release the documents that it should be giving to this House, as has happened in the United States. We are not privy to those documents. We do not know what the deal

is. Until we see it my answer can only be taken for what it is worth.

I want to say something else to the hon. member. He has become an apologist for Simon Reisman. Like Mr. Reisman, he gets misquoted once in a while so now he is trying to justify Simon's bad language and intemperate remarks. Well we did not hear him trying to do that during the election campaign in 1988 when Mr. Reisman was calling the member for Vancouver Quadra a traitor and a liar. That is when he should have been on his feet saying that Mr. Reisman, as a public servant, had no business making any such statement whether he thought it or not. Mr. Reisman had an obligation to stay silent on those issues and exercise the proper discipline that applies to public servants.

I would have loved to have come into government in 1988 because if I had been Mr. Reisman's minister he would have got the boot so fast he would not have know what happened to him. Public servants have no business making statements like that, especially in the course of an election campaign. Mr. Reisman went way beyond the bounds of propriety in his comments about the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

The second point the hon. member raised is that somehow the free trade deal has had no effect on Canadian farmers. He clearly has an ever so selective memory because, although I do not understand or pretend to understand the full ramifications of it, I am fully aware there was an ice-cream and yoghurt decision made which was seriously jeopardized from Canada's point of view, by reason of the free trade deal. Canadian farmers have suffered terrible losses because of that decision as I understand it. My colleague from Algoma can explain the situation better, but as I understand it Canadian farmers would have done much better had that decision not been made. Yet the free trade deal had a very direct bearing on the outcome of the case dealing with ice-cream and yoghurt.

The hon. member obviously is the one who is speaking from a city lawyer perspective. I would suggest he get his facts straight, cast his mind back even a year or two and remember that Canada got shafted because of the free trade deal. Canadian farmers are paying because of this free trade deal. On the evidence that is before us, uncontradicted by the parliamentary secretary or any-

February 25, 1992

body else, Canadian farmers could pay a good deal more because of the free trade deal.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Robert (Bob) Speller

Liberal

Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand-Norfolk):

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in this House today to debate Bill C-54 which is an act to amend the Farm Product Marketing Agencies Act and other acts in consequence thereof.

I think it is an important debate because it deals specifically with issues that this country is now dealing with in the international arena.

I know that many Canadians believe they do not really understand what this debate is all about. They really do not understand what supply management means. They do not really understand these GATT negotiations or what GATT means and how these negotiations could affect their everyday lives. I would like to change this indifference and misunderstanding about supply management which seems to abound not only in the seats across the way but in editorial boards across this nation. I believe strongly in the message coming from a number of Canadians, especially in the farming sectors of rural Canada. That is, without a viable Canadian farming sector there can be no food security for Canadians. We all know what the consequences of no food security for Canadians means.

Because of the public indifference and the real ignorance out there on this issue, I would like to urge every member on the other side of the House, Canadians from urban areas, heads of editorial boards and newspapers to listen to what members of Parliament, especially on this side of the House, are saying about this issue. It is a very important issue for Canada.

Many of them may not fully understand the issue at hand and may not really understand why we are supporting this thing called supply management. Hopefully the government will actually be able to convince people in the international community and all Canadians of the reasons why Canada needs article XI of the GATT. That is why our debate today is so important. I am concerned about the misinformation out there, and what it is doing to Canadian producers. I am concerned when I read in

Government Orders

the newspaper that our Canadian supply managed producers are inefficient. This came from an article by Mr. Leblanc in The Financial Post yesterday, where he ended by saying "Canadian farmers of supply managed commodities are inefficient". Editorial writers like him and editorial writers across the country do not really understand the importance of a national food security system for Canada.

I know we have not had a very long history as a country. We have not had the wars Europe has had which tore countries apart and forced people into near starvation. But I think if these people understood how important food is to the sovereignty of a country, they might think differently about what they are saying about supply management.

I am concerned also that these theoretical economic arguments really make no practical sense when it comes down to the day-to-day lives of Canadians. They make no practical sense when this government talks in terms of esoteric economics, saying that we have to join world economic blocs. Well that means very little to the farmers in my area. It means very little to the workers across Canada who want jobs, and the farmers across Canada who want livelihoods they can turn over to their children.

Supply management is really not too hard to understand. It ensures that the supply of any given product does not exceed the demand for it. Agricultural sectors that are supply-managed do not contribute to world surpluses. As a result they do not contribute to artificially low prices that we are seeing around the world today. Ultimately supply management does not distort international trade, and that is why GATT is there. GATT is there to stop distortion of international trade.

That is why Canadians have to work really hard, whether they are in cities or rural areas, whether they are on newspaper editorial boards, whether they are farmers. We have to come together to explain to the world why a system like supply management is so important.

As a result of not distorting trade, Canadian supply management is not a burden on the Canadian taxpayer. In fact I would argue that without supply management, Canadian taxpayers would be paying much more for their food and many more taxes, to help boost the livelihoods of Canadians in rural areas. Instead, prices and quotas of supply managed products are based on the cost of

February 25, 1992

Government Orders

production. In other words, poultry and dairy farmers receive a fair price for what they produce.

Consumer groups have spent a lot of time and a lot of energy. In fact, they have received a lot of the money for this time and energy from the government across the way, from the Minister of Agriculture, to do studies on supply management. As a result of these studies they claim to tell Canadians that they would be better off without supply management.

Unfortunately I have found in most cases, when reading their studies, when reading what they say, that they have a lack of knowledge and a lack of understanding of what the issue is all about. They really ignore some of the most important realities.

Sure, in the short term if we move away from supply management, it would probably look good for consumers. We would have open markets, cheap food and that is the argument.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink

February 25, 1992