Tracey stands up for Canadian farmers and demands answers from the Liberals

Ms. Tracey Ramsey (Essex, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise tonight to address the very serious attacks on Canada's supply managed sectors by the American government and the lack of leadership and strength against this attack from the Liberal government.

The NAFTA renegotiations began in August, but even before that Donald Trump took aim at our dairy farmers, stating, quote: “We can't let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers.”

Trump has continually been belligerent, accusing Canada of violating global trade obligations and our Prime Minister simply sits beside him stunned and grinning.

Just last Sunday, the U.S. NAFTA negotiating team said that it wants Canadian access for 400,000 metric tonnes of fluid milk and 17% of our poultry products.

Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada granted access to 3.25% of its dairy market and 2.1% of its chicken market. Since the U.S. has withdrawn from TPP, it is looking for even greater concessions under NAFTA. There was never any doubt on this side of the House that supply management would be under attack. The only surprise seems to be from the government.

The former Conservative and the current Liberal governments showed a real lack of forethought when they opened the door and market access to our supply managed sectors under trade deals like TPP and CETA, and because of their poor judgment now, they have created a space for the Americans to demand concessions that the government must not make.

I would like to talk about CETA here. The Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement is a trade deal that the Conservatives wrote and the Liberals rammed through Parliament. The Liberals did not consult adequately with farmers or producers and they did not provide adequate compensation programs for the losses our dairy farmers have endured.

Instead, the Liberal government only agreed to a controversial investment assistance program and after only a week of it being open, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced it would no longer accept any applications from dairy farmers. Without access to the compensation that is owed to them and a lack of funds, several dairy producers are now hitting a wall.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals promised to compensate dairy producers for concessions made during CETA negotiations, but they backtracked on this investment program.

Sadly, it is not the first time that the Liberals have harmed dairy producers or other farmers protected by our supply managed system. Since taking office, the Liberal government has been completely inactive in the raw milk sector, and they succumbed to the European Union regarding the allocation of the tariff quotas.

The NDP has repeatedly warned the government that dairy producers would suffer with only the $250 million allocated, but it has pushed through with this bad trade deal anyway and now we see it letting these same farmers down during the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Canadian farmers have benefited from the supply managed system since the early 1970s. This system sets the price and creates stability for dairy, egg, and poultry producers. Supply management has proven to be an effective model that equalizes the benefits of dairy and poultry production across consumers, farmers, and processors, and stabilizes the industry against price shocks or oversupply.

This attack on supply management cannot continue.

My question once again to the Liberal government is will it show real leadership and finally tell the U.S. that supply management and further market access is not on the table?

Ms. Tracey Ramsey: Madam Speaker, I am surprised but happy to hear the member across saying that the Liberals will not accept that at the table. At this point, I hope that is being communicated well across our country, and that everyone will be watching tonight and hear the parliamentary secretary say that we will not open supply management. 

My question goes back to the member, and has to do with where we are at now in these negotiations. Of course, we have had the U.S. throw this on the table. From what I can hear from the member across, he is saying quite clearly then that we will not enter into negotiations around that and that potentially we will leave the table. I am not sure what the option is.

I would like to hear from the member on what it is the Liberals have planned at this point to communicate that to the U.S. I have not heard that quite so strongly from the minister. Can the member opposite enlighten us in this House on how the Liberals plan to communicate that to the U.S., and what their plan is now at the negotiating table around this issue?