Alistair MacGregor spoke about Questions on the Order Paper, International Trade, and Opioids in the House
January 29th, 2019 - 8:37am
Mr. Speaker, over 10,000 Canadians have died from overdoses in the last three years alone. There are few communities in Canada that have not felt the scourge of the opioid crisis.
Unfortunately, my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford is not one of them. I want to recognize the efforts of community organizations and individuals who are on the front lines. They include the Westshore AVI Health Centre in Langford, the Our Cowichan Community Health Network and our brave first responders. They include people like Will Arnold, the owner of Experience Cycling, who is leading efforts in community cleanup; and the staff at the City of Duncan's overdose prevention site, which has reported thousands of visits with no deaths since operations began in 2017.
We need a federal government with the courage to declare a national emergency and explore the decriminalization and medical regulation of substance use. Using a criminal justice approach to tackle this health crisis has been an abject failure. We must do better. We can do better.
With respect to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food’s trip to China in November 2018: (a) who were all the participants on the trip, broken down by
(i) the Minister’s staff, (ii) Members of Parliament (iii) Senators, (iv) departmental employees, (v) other invitees; (b) for each participant identified in (a), what was the cost of the trip, broken down by (i) total cost, (ii) accommodations, (iii) travel, (iv) meals, (v) all other expenses;
(c) what are the details for all events and hospitality organized during the trip, including (i) dates, (ii) city, (iii) number of participants, (iv) total cost; and (d) what agreements or arrangements were signed?
Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish you and all my colleagues a happy new year as I stand in this brand new chamber here in West Block.
I am pleased to start off in fulfilling my role as the critic for agriculture by following up on a question I brought up in Centre Block last year. During that time, I asked about the USMCA agreement and its effect on our supply managed sectors, and the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs stood and gave me an answer.
The Liberals had consistently talked about not making any concessions in the negotiations on supply management, but unfortunately, when the details of the deal were announced, we did get the answers, and we did find out that there were some notable concessions made.
This has been a thorn in the side of the supply managed sectors through all the trade agreements, going back to CETA, the CPTPP and now the USMCA. Time and time again, whether it has been a Conservative or a Liberal government, they have been told that the government would be standing up for the sectors. Then they get the details, and they are let down.
Just how much are they being let down by? Let us look at the individual sectors. The egg farmers in Canada, under the USMCA, have to allow an intake of 10 million dozen eggs in the first year, and the export number will gain 1% every year for 10 years.
The chicken sector is going to see double the previous concessions, which is going to result in more than 12 million kilograms of chicken coming into Canada. Turkey is going to see additional access equivalent to 3.5% of the previous year's Canadian turkey production.
The dairy sector is going to see an additional 3.6%. In fact, the Dairy Farmers of Canada has now estimated that once all three trade deals come into effect, total dairy imports will make up 18% of the Canadian dairy market.
When I speak to Canadians and speak to farmers in my riding, and I have no doubt that this happens right across the country, there is an inherent interest in buying local goods. Time and time again, we see answers within the 80% to 90% affirmative rate that Canadians want to buy local. Supply management is the system that allows us to control price and control production, but it depends on that third very important pillar of import control. If we do not have that, we are undermining the entire system, because it is like a three-legged stool. It cannot stand unless all three pillars are stable and strong.
One can stand in the House and say that one supports supply management, but we judge a government not by its words but by its actions. Time and again, these farmers have been let down. The word they have used to describe it is “pawns”. They feel that they have been pawns in the negotiations. For those of us who like to play chess, we know that the pawn is the unit that is most often sacrificed at the beginning of the game to advance a player's interest, and that is precisely what has happened to our supply managed farmers time and time again.
To follow up on the general theme of what my question was last year, I am wondering, with regard to our supply managed sector, if the parliamentary secretary could go into a bit more detail on this compensation package. Why is it that the Liberals have continually promised one thing and then done another? Are they not seeing through the hypocrisy their own government is guilty of? Have they not been listening to supply managed farmers, who have really had it with the Liberal government's false promises and it leading them down the garden path?
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the parliamentary secretary, I enjoy his company. I sit with him at the agriculture committee. However, the message he just delivered in the House about import controls and defending supply management is completely at odds with what supply-managed farmers are telling me directly. They have seen a total failure in the Liberal government's ability to stand up for them in negotiations.
We are a nation of 35 million people. Our farmers can easily supply the Canadian domestic market, and we are such a minuscule market compared with the United States. I do not see why time and again our market has to suffer and pay the price for another jurisdiction's overproduction problems. The United States needs to get its house in order and figure out why it is producing too many eggs, too much chicken and too much dairy, but time and again, we are the ones that have to pay the price. It is our farmers who pay the price.
I for one am sick of being led down the garden path, being told one thing only to have something completely different happen. Perhaps the parliamentary secretary could give some details on the working group's progress on the compensation package, because I know a lot of farmers are waiting for this information.