These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Standardized Support Programs

Mr. Odina Desrochers (Lotbinière—L'Érable, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the federal government is using the strategic plan on agriculture to establish national standards for the agricultural support program from coast to coast.

The Prime Minister recently wrote to the President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and I quote:

The current approach is irreconcilable with the principle by which all Canadians are equal, regardless of where they live in the country.

How can the government justify to Quebec's farmers the fact that it is destroying all of the agricultural programs that have worked for 30 years because the Prime Minister wants to standardize support programs from coast to coast? Everyone is treated the same, is that the price they have to pay to be Canadian?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more, Canadians are Canadians no matter where they live, which is precisely why, during the federal-provincial ministers' meeting in June 2002, the province of Quebec agreed that we should have national standards for business risk management for Canadian farmers from coast to coast to coast. We also should have national standards but with flexibility in how they are delivered within the provinces for such areas as food safety, environment and that type of thing so we can ensure, for trade reasons and equitability, that Canadians are Canadians no matter where they live.


Mr. Odina Desrochers (Lotbinière—L'Érable, BQ): Mr. Speaker, how can the Prime Minister be so dogmatic and destroy programs that have proven effective for 30 years, instead of accepting that agriculture, which is different from one province to the next, requires different and appropriate support programs?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are working with the province of Quebec, and, I think, very successfully, in showing, with the designs, that every farmer is treated the same in the business risk management area and that Quebec producers will be better served. Quite frankly, the Quebec government, because it does decide from its provincial perspective to spend more on its agricultural support than other provinces, will be at liberty to do so and it will have even more money left over to do that than it had in the past. We will have a win-win situation for Quebec farmers.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, whether they sell their produce through the Wheat Board or supply management, the draft proposals released last week by the chair of the WTO agricultural panel spell even more problems ahead for Canadian agriculture producers.

Moreover the chair's proposal on export subsidies will force Canadian farmers to wait another nine years for the United States and Europe to eliminate their trade distorting largesse.

In light of these bad news proposals, will the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food advise the House and Canadian farmers how the government intends to protect Canadian agriculture in the future?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for accompanying my colleague, the Minister for International Trade, and I to the WTO ministerial in Tokyo in the past few days. We were not happy with Harbinson's initial draft report.

I can assure the hon. member and all farmers that the government will continue to vigorously support the initial negotiating position that we have put forward in the agricultural trade negotiation talks on behalf of all sectors of our Canadian agriculture.