June 4, 1993 (34th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)


Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell):

Mr. Speaker, I hate the fact that another member had to be interrupted for me to speak. I always listen carefully to the comments of the hon. member across. I know he has a very strong attachment to the agricultural community. I am always pleased to hear what he has to say, as I was to listen to the comments of the hon. member for Algoma and of our colleague from Saskatchewan as well.
We are debating today the motion to consider the advisability of protecting the family farm through stable returns and, second, for the funding for land assembly and long-term lease-purchase of land.
The funding for land assembly is not always a popular issue depending on how that is put. I am sure my colleague from Saskatchewan will agree that it has not always been a popular idea. Certainly the lease-purchase kind of initiative I think would meet the approval of many Canadians.
When the hon. member spoke a little earlier about some one million acres that the Farm Credit Corporation owns right now, shall we call it a reluctant owner of one million acres or so, I was not surprised at that figure because I had heard it many times. As the hon. member will know I have a large agricultural constituency as well. What I did not know was that 85 per cent of that land was in his own province of Saskatchewan.
There is a very sad message in that. That message I believe is the following, that for those areas of the country which depend on cash crops the cash cropping business has been so bad over recent years that many farmers have unfortunately gone out of business and have lost their farms.
We all knew that, but in other parts of the country where supply managed agriculture is a more popular form of agriculture, for a whole variety of reasons fewer farms have ended up being foreclosed or otherwise getting into the Farm Credit Corporation's hands.
Private Members' Business
If that happens with the Farm Credit Corporation I am sure it is also true of other banking institutions as well. Banks have become owners of large tracts of land and of course they are reluctant owners. I am sure they would rather be doing the business of banking rather than owning farm land and they are reluctant owners there.
Where there are no instruments to ensure stability in the farming area, the absence of those instruments has made it such that there is a higher rate of failure in those particular sectors. That brings me to the following topic.
I want to speak briefly about supply managed agriculture in Canada. The hon. member across, a colleague from Alberta, will know of my strong attachment to supply managed agriculture. He and I participated in a series of international meetings only a few weeks ago at which we had some occasion to raise these issues with leaders of other nations. He will know that I have a strong attachment for that particular method of ensuring the stability of the agricultural sector.
I want to talk a little bit about an area that perhaps I am a little bit more familiar with than I am with other areas, the area of dairy farming. There are a large number of dairy farmers in the riding of Glengarry- Prescott-Russell.
There are some 33,000 dairy farms in Canada. They provide approximately 100,000 jobs in this country. Operating a dairy farm is no bed of roses. It is a very difficult industry but it is at least more stable than other areas of farming where there is no supply management or other tools to ensure stability of income.
What is interesting is that the Canadian dairy industry receives approximately $266 million from subsidies right now. If anyone thinks that is a large amount of money, as a percentage of income it is actually very small. Something like 7 per cent of what dairy farmers get is from subsidies.
In the United States where there is no such initiative as supply management as we know it for dairy farmers, $66 billion is spent annually on agricultural subsidies and 34 per cent of the revenue of a U.S. dairy farmer comes from governments. If anyone likes to say "why do quotas exist, why can they not just compete freely and it would be a lot cheaper", it depends on whose mathematics.

June 4, 1993
Private Members' Business
No one can tell me that $66 billion of U.S. agricultural subsidies indicate there is something efficient about that particular form of marketing or doing business there. Indeed I would argue that the reverse is true. With our system only 7 per cent of income to dairy farmers comes from governments. That is indeed far more efficient.
We all know that the price of milk in both countries is substantially the same. I know someone will phone me up tomorrow and say: "Mr. Boudria, we saw this on television. We want you to know that last week milk in Massena was selling for one-third less than it sells for in Cornwall".
Of course they forget to say that was a loss leader designed to get people to cross the border to do a little bit of cross-border shopping and has nothing to do with the average price of milk sold in that area because it is substantially similar. I enumerated statistics some months ago comparing Detroit, Windsor, Cornwall and Massena and a number of other border communities in both Canada and the United States.
I think I argued at that point, and quite successfully if I may be so presumptuous as to suggest, that the prices were essentially the same in both countries notwithstanding the fact that the Canadian dairy producers get very little direct assistance from government as opposed to what they do south of the border.
The difference is that the stability that exists in the system here has been good for the Canadian dairy industry.

That is why I support Canadian farmers and especially the marketing boards that want to preserve supply management systems in Canada, including my own province, Ontario, for dairy farmers.
I must say today that I am very concerned. This may be my last chance to make a speech in the House before the election. Next week the House will probably adjourn and is not expected to come back. Those members who are re-elected by their constituents some time next fall will come back.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for sending me
to this, the highest court in the land, as their elected representative.
Mr. Speaker, as I said before, we are nearing the end of this session and the GATT negotiations are continuing. I must say that I am concerned about the future of supply management. A few weeks ago I had a chance to talk to the delegates and presidents of Venezuela and Colombia, both members of GATT. I must say that neither country supports our position on supply management. I know the government keeps saying it wants to preserve article XI of GATT, which allows us to have supply management, but I am not at all convinced that the other countries support us in this.

In the event that I do not have an opportunity to speak again in this Parliament, it is only a week from its adjournment, I know that you, Sir, may not be a candidate for office. I am going to take this opportunity to indicate to you, Mr. Speaker, my strong and sincere best wishes on whatever future plans you have.
I have particular affection for this particular Speaker. He was a member when I was on staff on Parliament Hill many years ago.
I do wish for you, Sir, that the future will bring many good things to you.
I also take this opportunity to say to my colleagues in this House in all parties how much I have enjoyed working with them. Of course it may not be a surprise to hear me say that I hope I am back to discuss issues again in this Chamber with many of the members who will be re-elected and new ones who will be coming in. It may not shock anyone to hear that I hope many of those new ones will be of my political affiliation.
Perhaps the day will come soon when I will have the opportunity to address the Speaker from the other side of the House. I hope that opportunity does come soon because I have been in opposition for many years.
With that I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and say to all my colleagues and our staff here in the Chamber how much I have enjoyed being a member for all these years.
I do hope I am back again to continue my work on behalf of my constituents.

June 4, 1993

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