November 19, 2014

CPC

LaVar Payne

Conservative

Mr. LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-18, the agricultural growth act, fully deserves the support of the House.

The proposed legislation is both timely and necessary so that Canada's agriculture industry will continue to produce safe and nutritious products and remain competitive in global markets. My support for Bill C-18 rests largely on the latter, on the legislation's potential impacts on the global competitiveness of Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry. This bill is designed to modernize Canada's agricultural legislation and encourage innovation in the sector.

It is fair to say that most Canadians take for granted just how globalized agriculture has become. Two generations ago, few Canadians had ever eaten a mango or an avocado or tasted international cuisines. Today, international foods are all available at neighbourhood supermarkets. Agriculture and agri-food have become a major component of international trade. Billions of dollars' worth of food products are traded around the world, and Canada is a star in the industry. Up to 85% of this country's production of some commodities is exported.

The rise of trade in agri-food products presents several challenges to countries such as Canada, with food safety leading the way. How can we ensure that products from other countries that do not necessarily have the same standards we do for food safety will not jeopardize the health of Canadians? The answer lies in international agreements and conventions, a complex set of negotiated rules based on sound science.

The legislation that is now before us proposes to modernize the regime that governs Canada's trade in this sector.

Let us consider, for instance, the current approach for regulating farm animal feed. The current regime specifies national standards for the composition, safety, and effectiveness of end products. These standards are known as end products controls, but on their own they are not always sufficient to ensure the safety of feeds.

Along with our competitors, such as the United States and the European Union, Canada's trading partners either have already implemented or are in the process of implementing more comprehensive and effective regulatory systems for animal feeds. These systems follow an approach known as hazard analysis and critical control point, or HACCP. Rather than focus on end products, the HACCP approach involves identifying exactly where and when problems are likely to occur in production processes, taking specific actions to prevent these problems, and then carefully monitoring and documenting the results. HACCP-based systems are now standard in most Canadian food production facilities and help ensure that Canada's food supply remains among the safest in the world.

As the international standards pertaining to animal feeds evolve, so too must Canada's, particularly since this country exports so much of its production. Emerging markets such as China and Russia, for instance, have begun to adopt systems-based requirements for imports of animal feed. Under these systems, producers must obtain licences if they want their feeds to enter the country. To obtain a licence, they must register with and be certified by the appropriate government agencies. The United States released new rules for animal feed production and import. These rules require facilities to be licenced.

The agricultural growth act proposes amendments to existing legislation that would promote the safety of agricultural inputs such as animal feed through licensing or registration of feed and fertilizer manufacturers. Bill C-18 would align Canada's relevant legislation with that of our international trading partners. It would also help our feed and fertilizer industries to maintain access to feed export markets such as the United States.

The proposed legislation would enable the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to license or register the fertilizer and animal feed operators and facilities that import or sell products across provincial or international borders, but farmers who produce fertilizer and feed only for their own use on farms or to sell locally would not be subject to the new rules. This nuanced approach is just one of the ways that the proposed legislation effectively balances the interests of producers, farmers, exporters, and consumers

. Another way that Bill C-18 balances these interests is that the legislation would require the development of regulations in consultation with stakeholders. In other words, the specifics of the regulations, such as timing and certification, would be informed through a collaborative exercise with those who would be most affected.

Mr. Clyde Graham, acting president of the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, said at SCAAF:

The federal regulatory system has served the industry well for 50 years. It has ensured a science-based and consistent regulatory environment for fertilizers and supplements, which emphasizes the principles of safety and efficacy for all products....

That being said, the fertilizer and supplement industry supports new provisions in the bill that enable tools such as incorporation by reference, licensing, export certificates, and acceptance of equivalent foreign scientific data.

Bill C-18 would also address the challenges of international trade in agriculture in a way that would meet the needs of Canada's plant breeders.

In 1991, countries around the world ratified a new convention, the International Union of Protection of New Varieties of Plants, known as UPOV '91. UPOV '91 is the current international standard for plant breeders' rights. More than 70 countries, including Canada, rely on UPOV to fulfill their obligations to protect plant varieties under the World Trade Organization. However, Canada is one of only two developed countries of UPOV members whose legislation does not comply with the standard of UPOV '91.

The legislation now before us would amend the Plant Breeders' Rights Act and would bring Canada's legislation up to date. It would also better align our regulatory regime with those of many of our key trading partners, including Australia, the European Union, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

What plant breeders develop is a form of intellectual property. Plant breeding is an intensive process that requires a significant investment of time and effort. It typically takes 10 to 12 years to develop a new variety and bring it to market. Under Canada's current laws, plant breeders' rights are protected for 18 years. Bill C-18 would extend this protection to 25 years for trees, vines and a few other plant categories and to 20 years for all other crops.

The proposed amendments to the Plant Breeders' Rights Act will also benefit Canada's agriculture industry in other important ways. It will, for instance, encourage investment in plant breeding in Canada and give farmers access to more varieties of seeds developed in our country or abroad.

Our government heard from stakeholders about needing to improve the language to make it absolutely clear that storage of seed would be included in farmer's privilege. We now have an amendment to Bill C-18 that addresses this key issue.

With this in mind, I would like to address the 56 amendments that have been proposed by the NDP and the Green Party. These amendments would result in tearing out the heart of the bill, killing this great legislation. As a result, I cannot support these two motions.

I do support Bill C-18, especially now in its revised form. We need this bill as it stands.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.

Above and beyond the issues he discussed, it is important to remember that we have before us a huge omnibus bill related to agriculture; yet, we are being given very little time to debate it. That is something that is now firmly ingrained in the minds of all Canadians. I saw it again yesterday at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, when some witnesses said that the process we were using to examine parts of the omnibus budget implementation bill was seriously flawed.

I would like to know why my colleague supports limiting debate and, unfortunately, making it impossible to seriously examine amendments in committee. Why is he so averse to all the opposition's proposals?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
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CPC

LaVar Payne

Conservative

Mr. LaVar Payne

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the agriculture committee. We had an opportunity to hear many witnesses from NDP and Liberal sources, farmers and organizations right across the country. I have in front of me a wad of very positive comments from these individuals.

We need to ensure that we get this legislation in place. The NDP's objective is to stop any legislation before the House. As the minister said earlier, it is really important that the government acts like a business, put forward a plan, ensure we have it developed and then implement the plan. Part of the process is to ensure we get this done.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Anne-Marie Day

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Anne-Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the government has made drastic cuts to funding for agricultural research in recent years.

Public research on plants has contributed greatly to Canadian agriculture. Support for this type of research must absolutely be maintained.

Can the member assure us that this bill will not hamper support for public research?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

LaVar Payne

Conservative

Mr. LaVar Payne

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that as part of the agriculture committee, we studied growing forward 2. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been put forward for research. We do that not just as the Government of Canada, not just through Agriculture Canada, but also with partnerships from organizations that also put in funding so they can get the research done to get the products they want and compete in the marketplace.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
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NDP

Linda Duncan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the speech, and the question I would have for the member is this.

I have also heard from a lot of farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta. What they are deeply concerned about is the government's lack of commitment to agricultural research. The government, in its wisdom, got rid of the community pastures and shut down all the agricultural research stations.

Could the member speak to the commitment of the Conservatives to developing better seeds and crops? Why on earth would they have moved to shut down the very enterprises that support the medium-income farmers and where a lot of our very valuable research has been conducted over many decades?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

LaVar Payne

Conservative

Mr. LaVar Payne

Mr. Speaker, it is not true what my colleague says. In fact, we do have some ongoing research stations. Just down the road from my riding is the station at Lethbridge, and I know the people there do some fantastic research. It is our facility and we are pouring money into that to ensure that products are available to farmers so they can market them globally and Canada can remain the most competitive country. If we can get our products to market, farmers can get their money and spend on more tractors, cars and trucks.

We are making a huge investment, and we need to see this move forward for the benefit of farmers.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
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NDP

Réjean Genest

New Democratic Party

Mr. Réjean Genest (Shefford, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, for much of my life—nearly 50 years—I worked in agriculture. When I was a student, I would spend my summers and even the fall working on farms. I then studied agriculture at Université Laval so that I could work in this industry—in various areas, but particularly in ornamental horticulture.

The riding of Shefford, which I represent, is made up of three very distinct regions. In the west, you have the rich plains of the St. Lawrence, where you can find the big farms. There are even private research centres where they are cultivating corn, soy and various grains. This area has the richest soil in the region.

Towards the centre of the eastern region, you will find fruit tree nurseries and a very big nursery for growing trees and shrubs. This bill will have a significant impact on this type of production.

More towards the centre, you will find the city and its industries. However, in the east, you will find traditional agriculture—hay fields and smaller farms, including producers of milk, veal calves, slaughter cattle, sheep, goats and chickens. There is a lot of diversity.

Pork production, which is very important in my area, is located in the eastern region because it is tied to grain production. Large-scale producers farm the land, grow grain and have mills to mix the grain and feed their animals.

I am curious. Will these major agriculture producers, who are used to sellling their seed every year, be able to keep using their own seed as they have been doing for years without being harassed by multinational grain corporations? I wonder. We are talking about producers who have thousands of acres and who are among the top three or four pork producers in Quebec. Will they be able to use their seeds?

I cannot support this bill because it does not explicitly protect farmers and the public and because it puts too much discretionary power in the hands of the minister. Speaking of his discretionary powers, the minister has been involved with the Air Canada file since 2011 because the bosses are hands off and that suits his purposes.

The minister also uses these powers to make decisions on employment insurance. This bill will benefit big corporations. The government will pocket the profits and leave as little income as possible to the unemployed.

The minister's discretionary powers also extend to copyright. I myself am an author, and I have written several books on horticulture. I know that authors do not make any money. That law protects the publishers. Will that be the case with this bill too?

The Conservatives' philosophy is to protect the establishment, not the little guy. Some market gardeners in my riding have been planting the same varieties of garlic for decades, year after year. If you plant garlic from the store, it will not work out because that garlic is not adapted to the region. There is a garlic grower in my region who has been working on adapting one variety for several decades. Will his variety of garlic be stolen from him? Will he be forced to buy it back from someone else? If a multinational orders a hundred garlic bulbs and plants them, then five or ten years later that corporation can say that the garlic is its variety. Will we be able to protect the little guys against this sort of thing?

We have a lot of greenhouse farmers. Some grow organic products and heirloom varieties. Is the greenhouse farmer going to be harassed by the inspector from some company and end up having to pay a fine? The large companies are given rights, but what is being done to protect the little guys from being abused by big business? Do not tell me that such abuse does not exist. In France, the law protects multinationals so much so that companies that sell seed to individuals no longer have the right to do so and people are going after them on the Internet. Kokopelli, a seed producer for third world countries, is constantly in court with major seed companies. Is that what we want? Do we want to cause even more problems for the so-called “little guy”?

I know a seed producer who collected heirloom varieties in the northern regions of the St. Lawrence. He uses the Internet and catalogues to sell seed he produces himself for fine herbs and vegetables. Will these heirloom varieties be protected under this bill? If a company finds an heirloom tomato and it improves that tomato slightly, it can then say that the original tomato, which has been an heirloom variety for a long time, is too similar to its own tomato.

I am familiar with these kinds of things. I have had a website since about 1996. Someone came to me and said that I had copied his pages. I had made a copy of my pages on a diskette, which I sent to myself by registered mail, without opening it. I had proof that I had written those pages five years before him. In the horticultural field, will people be able to prevent these kinds of abuses by others who want to steal varieties? These ancient varieties belong to everyone. These companies want to steal them.

What I find difficult about all this is that big breeders are being protected. How are individuals going to be protected? For instance, if I plant 10 varieties of tomato plants, someone could show up in my yard with big boxes and ask if I purchased the seeds for the various varieties. Individuals also need to be protected.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Mark Eyking

Liberal

Hon. Mark Eyking (Sydney—Victoria, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I do not know him very well. He is not on the agriculture committee, but he seems to be very knowledgeable about the growing of many things. I am sure that he represents a lot of farmers in his riding.

This must be very difficult for the NDP, especially the Quebec members, to vote against this tonight because so many of the representatives from Quebec who came forward are in agreement with this bill. The horticulture people came to us and said that there is a great opportunity with this bill for them to have varieties and new products that we could maybe sell around the world. It was of great interest to me when I heard the member talking about the garlic and tomato varieties that he has in his riding.

I do not agree with the whole bill, but would the member not agree that some of this bill would provide great opportunities to some of his horticultural producers to get those varieties, develop them and sell them all over the world?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Réjean Genest

New Democratic Party

Mr. Réjean Genest

Mr. Speaker, in the process of creating a new variety, there is a stage called licensing. All kinds of tests are done at that stage. Licensing costs a fortune. Some would say it costs an arm and a leg. Individuals do not always have the means to create a special horticultural variety and licensing their product. They will be bought out by someone else. Much like copyright royalties on a CD, individuals will get only pennies, almost nothing.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Shefford for his speech.

My colleague spoke about something that is arbitrary, the power that the minister is potentially giving himself. I have to say that this approach has become pervasive and is apparent in almost every bill studied by the House and by our various committees. The Conservatives are choosing to use the regulatory process to gain full control and deal with many things in an underhanded manner.

I would like my colleague to speak a little more about the Conservative government's approach, which could be detrimental to the public interest because it could be too easily used in the service of special interests.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Réjean Genest

New Democratic Party

Mr. Réjean Genest

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about ministerial discretion.

When it suits him, he talks about it and when it does not suit him, he does not talk about it.

Discretionary authority is being given to the minister without putting in place any legal recourse with the assistance of counsel, and without any possibility of protection. Do my colleagues know what I call that? I call that dictatorship. I call that absolute power.

The current government tends to want to put absolute power in the hands of a few people without providing any recourse.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Bev Shipley

Conservative

Mr. Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and pleasure for me to illustrate to this House my party's support for Bill C-18, the agricultural growth act.

First, I wish to express not only my appreciation but that of the farmers in Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, and I believe the large majority of farmers across Canada, to the Minister of Agriculture for his foresight and action in bringing this bill forward and the work that the parliamentary secretary has done to get the bill to committee. I also want to thank the committee, which has worked hard to get the bill to the form it is in today, so that we can move the industry of agriculture forward.

At one time or another, all of us have read the sign “If you ate today, thank a farmer”. In fact, I have a few of those in my office. I have one around the licence plate of one of my vehicles. It is an important sign as a consumer, farmer, dairy farmer and cash cropper. It raises the importance of not only what agriculture is but the importance of food.

As parliamentarians we need to do more than talk. We need to express more than just saying “thanks”. I need to ensure that farmers, and the industry as a whole, have the support of this effective legislation that is before us.

Before I focus on the main element of the bill, I would like to address the amendments that have been proposed by opposition members. If members can imagine, there are 56 amendments on the order paper, which would meet their objective to gut the bill and take away its effectiveness.

I will not, and my party will not, support those of types of motions. In fact, I urge everyone with a level head on their shoulders not to support the amendments, and move forward and adopt this great bill. Should we start to approve the gutting of the bill, it would turn the clock back in agriculture about 25 years. We are not prepared for that and I do not believe the country is prepared for that.

Bill C-18 proposes broad controls to ensure the safety of Canada's agriculture inputs. It would allow the licence and registration of fertilizer and animal feed operators, and facilities that import and sell products across provincial and international borders. That is in addition to the current system, which registers feed and fertilizer individually, product by product. However, licencing and registering facilities and operators is a more effective and timely method to verify that agriculture products meet, and surpass in many cases, Canada's stringent safety rules and other standards.

The bill is also important because we need to ensure that we align ourselves with our major trading partners and help our feed, seed and fertilizer industries maintain access to those markets, especially with our closest neighbour, the United States.

For the information of members, exports in the agriculture industry range up to 85% of what we grow. That is an incredibly high number. It means that one in eight jobs in this country is related to the agriculture industry. The agricultural growth act proposes to keep these jobs safe and secure, but that can only be done through modernizing our current antiquated legislation and by improving Canadian access to the latest farming technology.

Exports are part of the solution, but what we grow here is the other part. Members may recall that during the last Parliament, Motion No. 460 was debated. It read:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should ensure that production management tools available to Canadian farmers are similar to those of other national jurisdictions by considering equivalent scientific research and agricultural regulatory approval processes by Health Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

I was glad that the motion was adopted by the House, but I did not get help from the NDP, which I find strange. It is clear that it does not support the idea, but do members know who does support it? Farmers. Who is fulfilling the promise to farmers? Our Conservative government.

During the 2011 federal election, the Conservative Party platform said:

Like other businesspeople, Canadian farmers want access to the latest innovations, to succeed in the global economy. Unfortunately, long and burdensome approval processes imposed by the federal government are preventing Canadian farmers from obtaining the best fertilizers, pesticides, and veterinary drugs available on the market. We will revise current approval processes to allow for international equivalencies in such products. We will eliminate needless duplication, while protecting our national sovereignty and maintaining the highest safety standards.

What did the stakeholders tell us about this at committee? The president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers, for example, said in October 2014:

...allowing the CFIA the opportunity to use data that is sourced externally to Canada, not having to be reproduced, and to use data that is from a country that is considered to be equivalent to the standards in Canada is, I think, a significant improvement in terms of allowing the CFIA the freedom to operate, and reducing that administrative burden of recreating data that would be already acceptable in terms of identifying the safety and the ability to use that product in Canada.

Our bill would do this. Indeed, we have such a strong belief in this idea that clauses 56, 67, 77, and 96 of Bill C-18, the agricultural growth act, would implement this idea. The amendments proposed in Bill C-18 would provide the CFIA with stronger tools to fulfill its mandate to protect Canada's plant and animal resource base. The changes would provide additional reassurance that imported agricultural products meet Canadian requirements. Those are strict requirements. Bill C-18 would be part of our government's strong agricultural agenda—and I am not alone in seeing Bill C-18 as a key milestone for Canada's agriculture sector.

The Grain Growers of Canada, the Canadian Seed Trade Association, and the Canadian Horticultural Council are only a few of the many agricultural organizations anxiously waiting for the proposed legislation.

New, stronger border controls for agricultural products are urgently needed. Bill C-18 would respond to that. It would give inspectors from the CFIA the authority to have important shipments of feeds, fertilizers, or seeds that do not meet legal requirements to be ordered out of Canada. That would be similar to the current treatment of imported plants and animals that do not meet those requirements now.

Canadian farmers would benefit because they would be competing on a level playing field with their international counterparts. That is so important because Canadian consumers would benefit from a strengthened food safety regime.

To be clear, the CFIA already takes action to seize illegal animal feeds, seeds, fertilizers, and related products. Bill C-18, however, would propose to update that as we do this.

In some cases, under the current process, seizure of illegal products is followed by lengthy and costly court proceedings and, at that time, Canada must pay to dispose of those illegal products. Members can see that being able to order the products out of the country becomes a much more efficient and a much more practical procedure.

At the same time, Bill C-18 would give CFIA inspectors the ability to allow the importer to fix the problem at the border, if there are no safety concerns and if the inspector can be certain that the issue would be addressed.

It has been an honour and privilege for me to make this presentation on Bill C-18 on behalf of our government and I look forward to addressing any of the questions or comments that may come forward.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Malcolm Allen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Malcolm Allen (Welland, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague, the chair of the agriculture committee, for his comments. I believe I said it the other night but will say it on the record again today that I thought he chaired the committee admirably when it looked at Bill C-18. I thought there was a good balance of witnesses. His ability to chair is one thing. My trying to convince the other side to accept amendments is my own responsibility and I have to admit that I was not quite as successful as I had hoped to be. In baseball parlance, it is called an “ofer”. In other words, 16 up to the plate and 16 outs. That happens in life.

The chair asked committee members to study the bill in a professional manner, and we did. We were presented with some very professional suggestions that we thought were amendments to bring forward. Where I take slight issue with the chair is when he says that these amendments to take UPOV '91 out of this particular bill before us now would leave us eons back in time. That is not quite true. If we go back to UPOV '78, which everyone is regulated under today, it has been fairly successful. I would suggest to the chair respectfully that farmers in this country have done very well, and so they should. They have worked extremely hard. If UPOV '91 is taken out, UPOV '78 would be there.

I think the chair perhaps overstates things. I recognize that members in the House sometimes stretch things a bit, but we would clearly still have a UPOV agreement. It would be UPOV '78.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Bev Shipley

Conservative

Mr. Bev Shipley

Mr. Speaker, it is a great thing how this bill came forward. As chair of the committee, I very much want to express my appreciation to the members of all parties for how this was addressed and how we moved forward on the bill. As I mentioned before, the amendments that were presented to us were very much aimed a taking away from the bill's objective and what farmers in Canada were telling us.

In terms of UPOV '78, that is my point. It was 25 years ago. Agriculture is not about 25 years ago. Agriculture is about now and looking forward maybe 25 years, not going back 25 years. All of our trading partners are involved with UPOV '91. Just about all of the industry people who came to the committee said that we needed to move forward for the protection of agriculture and its sustainability.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Mark Eyking

Liberal

Hon. Mark Eyking (Sydney—Victoria, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with my colleague from the NDP that the member is doing a great job as chair of the agriculture committee. Sometimes it is difficult for a government member to be in the chair and to be fair to all.

It was clear during the many presentations, especially by organic and small farmers, that there is a concern. There is a concern that there is not a lot in the bill for them and that some of their rights would be taken away. I am hoping that is not going to be the case.

On that point, I have two questions for the member. Does he recognize that we listened to the small farmers who came forward and does he see merit in the committee in its future business trying to help the smaller growers, who are really a big part of the increase in agriculture in Canada, by our taking seriously their concerns on how we can help them grow, move forward, and be a big part of our production in Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Bev Shipley

Conservative

Mr. Bev Shipley

Mr. Speaker, that is a great question. He has been consistent in his questioning.

How does this help small farmers? Actually, the whole issue around UPOV '91 is about being able to allow seed to come in from other countries to be used and protected in Canada. One thing about Canada is that it is geographically very big and numerically very small. Part of what my Motion No. 460 was about was the need to make sure that we aligned ourselves with countries that have the same standards we do, so that when we bring in those seeds, it will help the small breeders, because we do not always have that breeding in Canada. Whether it is horticulture, small farmers, or organic farmers who have special seeds, they will now have the opportunity to bring seeds in from other countries that have the same high standards we do.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton)

Before resume debate I will let the hon. member who is up next, the hon. member for Winnipeg North, know that there are only about seven minutes remaining in the time allocated for debate on this particular question. I am sure that the member will be disappointed to hear that, but nonetheless, that is what we have in front of us.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I suspect that if I asked to have the debate continue, it would probably be denied, so I will not ask.

However, I will pick up on the point the member just made reference to. Canada is a vast land. Our population is around 35 million, but land-wise we produce the best food in the world. If we look at our agricultural production as a whole, it is estimated that around 80% of all the food we produce here in Canada goes to foreign markets. Canada is very much the bread basket of the world, and our potential is so great.

When we look forward to the many Liberal Party policies, one of the ones I often refer to is the area of trade. We recognize the value of trade. For me, being from the Prairies, the bread basket of Canada, at least in good part, when we look at our agricultural communities, it is through trade that we will be able to increase opportunities and generate jobs in the future and provide good quality food and consumable products, not only here in Canada but also around the world.

The Liberal Party's agriculture critic has done a wonderful job in taking the bill from its origins, bringing it to committee, and even bringing forward amendments to the legislation, recognizing that we believe that our farmers, in particular our small farmers, need to have a strong advocate here in the House. The critic has done that. Even the chair of the agriculture committee just put on the record the point of about his consistency in being there for our small farmers. That is something I know he takes to heart.

We had him in Manitoba, where we had a wonderful tour of a chicken processing plant. There were thousands of birds being processed every day and then being distributed all over Canada, far beyond our Manitoba borders. This is a realization of jobs and economic activity and some of the best product in the world.

Our leader has asked us to go out and communicate with Canadians. A big part of that for me personally is to go out and meet other farmers. I have referred in the past to the dairy farm. We know how important supply management is to Canada and our economy in ensuring that we have good quality dairy products and many other products. I had taken the opportunity to tour a dairy farm just to get a better sense of supply management and the positive impact it has in Canada in providing protection for good quality product, protection for our farmers and so forth.

Bill C-18 is all about markets. One of the Conservative speakers mentioned international markets. In order to achieve success in our international markets, we have to make sure that our industry is going in the right direction. We have to have regulations to ensure quality. If a product has a maple leaf associated with it, consumers, no matter where they live in the world, can count on it being of world-class quality. Consumers all around the world will pay even that much more knowing it is coming from Canada.

Nowhere is that more significant than with wheat. I have had the opportunity, in different capacities, to witness its success. Driving on Highway 2, or Highway 1, one can see rows of combines harvesting tonnes of wheat in the fall. Here I could talk a little about the government's inability to get that product to the Pacific to get on to those empty ships, but that is for another day.

However, our farmers have a great sense of pride in the production of food. Many of us take this for granted. We go to a grocery store and we buy the consumer products we need, but it is our farmers who put those products on our tables. I do not think we give them enough recognition or the recognition they deserve. We, in the Liberal Party, believe we should acknowledge the important role of our farmers and stakeholders, those many industry representatives who came before the agriculture committee to make presentations and who wanted to improve the bill.

The Liberal critic brought forward several amendments. Unfortunately, they did not pass because the government was not open amendments. The New Democratic Party also attempted to make changes. However, the government does not recognize that overall this is a good bill, but it could have been better. Had the Conservatives listened to what the different stakeholders, including opposition critics, were saying, we would be debating and ultimately passing a better bill.

With the leadership that has been demonstrated from our critic, we will support Bill C-18 when it comes to a vote. On that note, the government could have done better.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Gordon O'Connor

Conservative

Hon. Gordon O'Connor

Better.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Agricultural Growth Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink

November 19, 2014