These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Difficult Decisions

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while the government claims to be 1000% behind supply management, yesterday, the Canadian agriculture negotiator at the WTO told farm producers difficult decisions may have to be made.

Could the Minister of Agriculture explain to producers what these difficult decisions will be?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in some of the recent decisions Canada made it very clear that we would not support the Harbinson's report on modalities. That emphasizes and stresses the support that the government has for supply management in this country. We recognize what it does for producers, for consumers and for the economy of our country. We will continue with that full and strong support for supply management.


Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the government's positions are increasingly vague. On the one hand, our ministers are telling us they will not touch supply management, but on the other hand, the chief negotiator told producers yesterday that defending administered prices was not part of her mandate.

Does the minister not think that the time has come to give his negotiator a clear mandate to protect all three pillars of supply management: first, planning; second, border control; and third, administered prices?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, those three pillars are very clear. The industry was part of that. The government was part of that. Part of the mandate to the WTO of this government is that on supply management the decisions of domestic marketing and the protection of that system will be made here in Canada. That is the position of the government. Industry agrees with it and that is the position our negotiators are taking as well.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the dairy farmers of Canada have spent eight years trying to get the government's attention on the butteroil/sugar blend issue and the government has been indifferent.

Now the working group that was established to study the issue has also pushed producers right out of the loop.

Why, as has happened in so many other agricultural areas, is the government ignoring dairy producers?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the working group of the four departments involved in this, revenue, finance, trade and agriculture, met with the industry group and took its recommendations.

Those recommendations are being considered at this time and we will be making a decision in order to see the direction that we can. We recognize the erosion of some products in the dairy industry and we will do all we possibly can to stop it.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government has failed to protect Canada from imports of dairy substitutes. The importation of butteroil/sugar blends has reduced the market share for Canadian dairy farmers. It has cost them a pile of money.

Now the working group has said that its report will not be ready for another month.

Is the government waiting until after the Perth--Middlesex byelection to give its dairy producers the bad news?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): No, we are not, Mr. Speaker. We are working on that so we can, hopefully, come up with a solution in order to assist the dairy industry in this. However it is interesting to hear the comments about supply management coming from a party that does not even support supply management.

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I realize that the concerns of Canadian farmers are rarely top of mind for the Liberals but given that there is a byelection underway in the largely agriculture riding of Perth--Middlesex perhaps they will take them seriously today.

The government and its Pest Management Regulatory Agency are making it harder for Canadian farmers to compete with their American counterparts by denying Canadian farmers the right to use cheaper and more environmentally friendly farm chemicals that have been approved for use in the United States.

Why does the Liberal government deny farmers the right to these safe, environmentally friendly farm chemicals?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the system of regulations and registration of agricultural chemicals, as with all chemicals in Canada, is reviewed by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency in Health Canada.

First, there has to be an application for those by the company that wishes to use them. As well, the government put over $60 million in place to help the industry in minor use registration. We will now be able to move to a program similar to that in the United States of IR-4, but the application for those products first has to be applied for. We will then make sure that the application for those in use in Canada is safe.

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, thanks to the heroic efforts of the government, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is approving minor use regulations at 150th the rate in the United States. In 2000-01, a total of 1,200 minor use registrations were approved in the U.S.A. compared to 22 in Canada.

This forces Canadian farmers to rely upon older, less environmentally friendly farm chemicals. Given that the allowable limit for de-listed farm chemicals in the United States is 0%, this means that failure to harmonize with the United States will result in de facto trade barriers against Canadian farm products.

What will the federal government do to end the regulatory mess that it has created?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I gave that answer to the hon. member. Last year we put forward $54.5 million on top of $7 million just prior to that in order to improve our system. However, I first have to stress that the applications have to be there.