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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada
Blog > Economy > Senator Hervieux-Payette defends canadian farmers in the Senate
Nov 17

Senator Hervieux-Payette defends canadian farmers in the Senate

Yesterday, I asked the following question in the Senate.

 Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, Canadian farmers are hard-working people who often fail to receive the necessary congratulations for their hard work and dedication to providing safe and delicious food to families here in Canada and around the world.

Despite this, the Conservative government seems intent on demonizing farming as a way of life and any chance for farmers to make a fair living. The Prime Minister recently said in Honolulu that Canada would be joining APEC, an organization fiercely opposed to our system of supply management. It would come as no surprise that this system is next in line to be axed by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Mr. Gerry Ritz.

Considering that farmers have invested billions of dollars in quotas as a way of securing production and ensuring their retirement, will the government compensate Canadian farmers for the loss of value of their quotas and ensure their investments guarantee them a safe and comfortable retirement?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Questions like that just illustrate the serious difficulty the honourable senator’s political party finds itself in. It is so 1970s and 1980s. Things have changed so much since then, and so has farming. I know that. I was raised on a dairy farm that was quite different from today.

That is one of the things that has changed. We had Jerseys and I was not as silly as some urban people who thought they produced chocolate milk because they were brown.The fact of the matter is, this is fear mongering, just like her party did during the free trade debate about our agricultural industries, particularly in the case of the grape and wine industry. There is no evidence to suggest that the agricultural community will not continue to thrive and grow. It will even have more opportunity now that farmers can make their own choices as to who they will sell their products to.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I am living in the 21st century, but I am not sure all of you are. As you know, the sugar industry seems to operate like a cartel — and I am not saying that it is a cartel. It imposes high prices for sugar on consumers the world over and ensures that the majority of food products contain that ingredient, which, when consumed in large quantities, is harmful to our health. Since the government is determined to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board, we can naturally assume that this situation would be conducive to the emergence of a type of wheat cartel in Canada. This situation would be even more detrimental to Canadian consumers because, unlike the sugar industry, a wheat cartel would increase the cost of an item essential to the production of basic foods such as pasta, bread, pastries and any other flour-based product. Why does the government want so badly to reduce farmers’ incomes, increase the cost of basic food for Canadians and create more wealth for the large multinationals that control the food industry?

Senator LeBreton: I just turned to my colleague and asked, “Where do they get this stuff?”The fact of the matter is, first, Canada has a growing and thriving agricultural industry. We are very proud of our farmers, Eastern and Western, no matter what products they produce. We promised our Western grain producers that we would provide marketing freedom and that is exactly what we plan to do. As a matter of fact, I fully expect that most people in Western Canada understand this and support us.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Maybe the leader is not aware that there was a report published this year about agri-food and the fact that under her government, for a number of years, the exportation of agri-food has dramatically reduced compared to the 1990s. How will this improve the situation? We know the Americans and the Europeans invest billions of dollars in subsidies, so the Government of Canada also had to invest. We are competing in the world market, but it is government to government, not farmers to farmers. I would like to have an answer to that question.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this party and this government believe in the capacities of individuals to thrive. We do not believe that there must be a big brother overseeing every aspect of our society. Furthermore, insofar as the Canadian Wheat Board goes, we made it very clear, as I stated before many times, that we would deliver on the promise to provide marketing freedom for our Western farmers.

Unlike the honourable senator, I actually have great faith in the ability of our farmers not only to continue to grow and produce, but also to compete very effectively. We are not hiding behind some snow fence up here in Canada; we are absolutely capable of taking on the world in whatever aspect is required.

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