These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

GM Wheat

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, considering the widespread opposition to genetically engineered wheat by overseas buyers, and considering that several agricultural groups, including the national farmers union, oppose the introduction of genetically engineered wheat, could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food inform the House as to whether he will refrain from approving the release in Canada of genetically engineered wheat?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has not yet reviewed the submissions for roundup ready wheat. There is a process where the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reviews such a submission for safety to animals and safety to the environment. Health Canada reviews the submission for safety to humans. That evaluation certainly is not complete because the submission has just come in.

I can assure the House and Canadians that submission will be conducted and that evaluation will be very thorough because we understand the concerns of everyone on this issue.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the discussions on the agriculture policy framework have stalled. The minister decided to throw his weight around. Farmers are worried and do not like it that what they had negotiated with the Quebec government is being called into question.

Will the Minister of Agriculture listen to all the stakeholders in Quebec and agree to channel the financial mechanisms he is proposing through the Financière agricole du Québec, yes or no?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as a government we have said very clearly that we will treat every farmer in similar circumstances in Canada the same with the federal support.

Even the minister in the province of Quebec in 2001, at a federal-provincial ministers meeting, agreed that we needed to move to a basic program of crop insurance and the NISA, including a disaster payment.

However, that does not prohibit provinces, such as Quebec, as they have in the past and can continue to do in the future, from supporting their producers as they see fit above and beyond that. We live in a country where the provinces can do that if they so wish.


Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture is brushing aside objections by the farmers' unions and the provincial ministers.

Is it not time for the Prime Minister to step in to avoid having the farmers pay for the intransigence of this minister, who no longer seems to care about the interests of farmers?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, more consultations have taken place with the ministers and the agricultural industry in the last 18 to 20 months than have ever taken place in the development and the design of the present and the future business risk management programs that we have. That has been very successful. We had a very successful agriculture ministers meeting last week in Toronto.

There is still more work to be done and more progress to be made but I can assure the member that we have accomplished and met pretty well all the desires of the primary producers, and we will continue to do the best job we--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake.

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I beg to disagree. The government is hanging our farmers out to dry with this agriculture policy framework. No agreement has been reached with either the provinces or the farm groups regarding safety nets. The April 1 deadline is fast approaching with no agreement. The federal safety net proposals to date will have farmers paying higher premiums for lower benefits.

Why is the federal agriculture minister shoving a bad deal down the throats of our farmers?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member, as a member of the committee, had a presentation this morning which showed, for example, that the amount of money that a farmer needs to invest to ensure stabilization and disaster coverage is considerably less on an annual basis than it has been in the past. It will also give coverage to producers for back to back disasters if that unfortunately is the situation. It will also give immediate coverage for beginning farmers. It will be very affordable. It will be more trade receptive than we are at the present time. I could go on.

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister could go on but the farmers will not be any better off. I can guarantee that.

The $1.1 billion that is supposed to come out every year is in a program that has a rolling effect to it. In fact, if the money is not paid out, it rolls to the next year and then to the next year. What we will be seeing is farmers not getting $1.1 billion a year like they have in the past.

This agriculture policy framework is putting less money into the pockets of farmers and the minister had better explain to farmers why that should be.

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, until the Prime Minister and I made the announcement last June, the farmers had $600 million from the federal government for business risk management, and then we went on an ad hoc basis each year. The farmers, the provinces and the producers did not know what other support was there.

We now have $1.1 billion a year there for each of the next five years, and that security is there. I can assure the hon. member that if he takes a look at that he would see that for farmers to have a 70% coverage of a $100,000 production margin, they only need to put $3,500 down on the--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Yukon.