These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Penalizing Quebec Farmers

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday our committee heard evidence from senior officials at Agriculture Canada to the effect that Quebec had three years to adjust downward to match the federal department's program, penalizing those farmers, and Quebec, which are ahead in terms of stabilization insurance.

How can the minister justify an approach that sets farmers back and denies Quebec's agricultural specificity?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to make this very clear. As we know, the contribution the federal government makes to agriculture in the provinces is on a 60:40 basis. The province of Quebec provides $1.60 to its farmers above and beyond the contribution and most provinces make contributions in the low forties.

The work that is being done with the province of Quebec is to modestly change not how much, but how 24¢ out of the $1.60 is spent in the province of Quebec. It continues to spend the other $1.36 as it can and has for its industry in the past.


Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Quebec has sound financial tools developed as part of a complete overhaul of its stabilization insurance programs.

Will the minister finally understand that it is out of the question that our excellent programs in Quebec be jeopardized to accommodate the federal government's visibility objectives?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will say again that if the province of Quebec wants to, it can continue to contribute above and beyond what the federal government contributes on a provincial basis. We ensure that every farmer in every province in Canada under similar circumstances is treated the same way federally for trade reasons and for equality reasons. The province is free, willing and able to do as it has in the past with the extra support to its farmers. As a federal government, for trade reasons and equitability reasons, we are going to treat every farmer in the same way.

Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recently forbade farmers from using their land, claiming that the land might transfer chronic wasting disease. The government neglects to consider how farmers are supposed to earn an income when they cannot use their land.

Will the minister table before the House scientific proof that CWD resides in soil and is communicable in this form?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have worked with the industry's cooperation in order to try to eradicate chronic wasting disease in the elk herds across the country. There is still scientific work being done to try to find out when a herd of animals have contaminated the soil and are removed, how long the contamination stays there so that animals can be safely put back on that soil and not be reinfected with chronic wasting disease. That work is not solid. There is work that needs to be done. We are working with the industry so that the safety and--

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Blackstrap.