|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Financial Aid for Tobacco Producers
Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, several weeks before the election call, the government announced $70 million in financial aid for tobacco producers in Ontario and Quebec hit by plummeting demand. Seven months after the election, tobacco producers in Quebec still do not know the terms of this aid package.
What explanation can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food give for such an unreasonably long delay?
Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is not very hard to explain. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, in discussions and through the department with industry, wants to do the right thing by producers and that is what we are trying to do: to continue to hold those kinds of discussions and at the end of the day meet our obligations and protect the needs of producers.
Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, according to staff at the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, aid for Quebec is being blocked by a dispute in Ontario.
Given that the situation in Quebec is urgent, that the number of tobacco producers has dropped from 55 to 17 in two years and that they need help to switch to alternate crops, will the minister take action and immediately implement a compensation package for Quebec tobacco producers, who are almost all located in the Lanaudière region?
Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Again, Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada takes into account the interests of all producers in the country, including those in the province of Quebec as well as those in Ontario. The bottom line at the end of the day is that we want to do the right thing for producers in terms of protecting their interests into the future for their efforts they have put into that industry.