These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Agricultural Policy Framework

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture made known his intention to implement, come what may, his agricultural policy framework on April 1. However, we read in the newspapers that the minister has commissioned an independent study, the results of which will be known a few months from now.

What reasons can the minister give for implementing his framework before even examining the findings of the study that he himself commissioned?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would recommend that the hon. member get his facts straight before he asks a question.

The industry has asked to have an independent group look at the programs that are in place and the programs that are being proposed at the present time. I have indicated that we are prepared and willing to do that. It should take only two weeks to do that.


Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the federal Minister of Agriculture is operating in total isolation. Farmers in Quebec, and in eastern and western Canada oppose this. The opposition is against it, and even the members of the Liberal caucus are against it.

Before the minister destroys a perfectly good system that has proven itself, could he not show prudence, slow down and delay implementing this policy framework?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House yesterday, the farmers in Canada have not had a disaster program since December 1 last year. With the encouragement of members of the opposition and members of the government party, we got the funding to do so and to develop a better plan than we have had in the past to get that money there on a permanent basis for a number of years ahead.

I have said all along that April 1 was not a deadline for that, that we had time to develop it this year so that it could be there for producers to use this year, and we will have that in place.

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is supportive of supply management, but dairy producers have expressed concern over unregulated imports of dairy products and subproducts, such as butteroil-sugar blends.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell the House what the report of the working group set up last summer recommended and how the ministers intend to follow up?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, I want to commend the strong support that the hon. member for Peterborough has, and continues to have, with the caucus and the government for supply management.

The working group that was set up has had a number of meetings with the dairy industry. We recognize the concern regarding the importation of butteroil-sugar blends. There have been a number of recommendations that have been made to ministers in the government. We are reviewing those recommendations thoroughly at the present time so that we can work with the industry to help solve the problem.

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, despite numerous objections from farmers, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has been saying for a long time now that he intends to impose his policy framework. His plan is creating anger and panic among farmers, who have a hard time understanding what the rush is.

Will the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food get it into his head that what farmers are demanding is a one-year delay and nothing less?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will repeat again, as I did several times yesterday and already today. Since the first of January of this year there has not been a disaster program for Canadian primary producers. The funding was put in place last June.

We have been working on that since last June with the provinces and the industry. We still have time to develop that because the producers deserve it and there will be a program for farmers this year.


Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, farmers in Quebec and Canada are concerned about supply management. Tensions mounted again last month when the chair of the negotiating committee at the WTO, Stuart Harbinson, tabled a preliminary report proposing to reduce the tariff quota by half and increase access to markets.

Does the minister realize that if the Harbinson proposal were accepted, there would not be a single quotaed farmer in Canada who would be able to farm, and does he consequently intend to unequivocally reject said proposal?

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Harbinson last week. I was very clear that the document as it stands does not reflect a negotiating framework satisfactory to Canada. We are pleased with some of the progress made in eliminating export subsidies, which meets Canadian objectives, but in terms of access to markets and farmer subsidies, we did not agree with this document.

I would like to reassure the House and Canadians that this document is also not supported by the European Union or the United States. I think that for now, these terms are far from being approved for agriculture negotiations at the WTO.

Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Mr. Speaker, farmers are criticizing the Minister for International Trade for his lack of firmness regarding supply management, for letting too many products come in.

However, at the Liberal caucus held in Chicoutimi, the minister pledged to farmers that he would take action to settle this issue. We know that a study was conducted and recently submitted to the minister, at the end of February.

Can the minister tell us when he intends to table the findings of that study here in the House?

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, indeed, when we were in Chicoutimi, the Minister of Agriculture and I set up a working group with dairy producers and supply management officials.

Our officials worked together and, last week, they submitted to the Minister of Agriculture and myself a report which we have reviewed. A number of possibilities are being examined. These are rather complex issues, and we have to look at the legal impact of any scenario that we may adopt.

Therefore, we will follow up on this request in the coming weeks.