These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Agricultural Policy Framework

Mr. Odina Desrochers (Lotbinière—L'Érable, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the provinces and the federal government readily reached agreement on the objectives of Canada's new agricultural policy framework. However, an important obstacle still exists regarding how these objectives will be reached. Despite the unanimous support of the National Assembly, the UPA, and the Quebec government, the federal government stubbornly refuses to make changes to the program, thereby threatening the viability of the Financière agricole du Québec.

Does the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs approve of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food's refusal to be flexible solely to maximize the Government of Canada's visibility?

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for giving me this opportunity to answer my first question as Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture.

It is completely false to say such things. Currently, we are developing a program, a strategic framework. All the stakeholders are participating in discussions. The minister is meeting today in Toronto with the provincial stakeholders to develop a strategic framework, and it is completely false to make such statements.

Mr. Odina Desrochers (Lotbinière—L'Érable, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I have here a backgrounder prepared by Agriculture Canada.

It says that from the federal government's point of view, it makes sense to stop funding provincial programs because the federal government receives very little, if any, visibility from the provincial programs it supports.

Does the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs think it is right for a government to hold all of Quebec's agricultural producers hostage because it is not getting enough visibility?

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, some documents became available. In the English version, there was never any mention of this sentence. This sentence was in the French text, and the Minister of Agriculture deleted it immediately.

I can guarantee that this government will never make its assistance to Canadian agriculture a visibility issue.

Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, farmers have expressed some concerns about the development of business risk management programs.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food explain to this House how he intends to alleviate these concerns?

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, for a year and a half now, the Minister of Agriculture has been working on developing an agriculture policy framework with risk management programs that will provide very effective coverage for farmers. We have consulted all the industry representatives, producers and members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture who asked for amendments, which were noted and even added.

Again I repeat, the Minister of Agriculture is currently in Toronto with his provincial and territorial counterparts to continue examining the policy framework.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the agricultural policy framework implementation date will soon be here. Three provinces and the majority of farm groups have fundamental objections to many of the proposed changes. The prospects for thousands upon thousands of Canadian farmers are bleak at best.

Our farmers need an effective long term solution. Will the minister extend the implementation period by one year to ensure the program will meet the needs of our hard pressed Canadian farmers?

[Translation]

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, of course there are various reactions to this program. This is a new program that is being developed throughout Canada so that all producers can benefit from all the existing programs.

Certain stakeholders do not like the program. We are making changes. People are asking that the program be delayed. It is important to understand that, next year, producers will be able to benefit from all current programs. We are now developing programs for the future. We have three years in which to do this.

[English]

Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister is insisting on ramming through his changes to the safety net programs by April 1 even though the majority of farm organizations and a number of provinces are opposed to the deadline of April 1.

Now the minister is threatening the provinces with no federal funding for their producers until they have signed on to the APF. Why is the minister threatening the provinces and trying to force this program down the throats of the farmers?

[Translation]

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no threatening going on. We are currently developing the program. The Minister of Agriculture and his provincial counterparts are still working today in Toronto to develop this program. In due course, all producers will be able to access all the funding they need for their programs.