On June 13, 2022, MPP Luc Theriault (Bloc Quebecois – Montcalm, Que.) introduced a bill into our Federal Parliament which would stop the further erosion of our Supply Management System (dairy, eggs and poultry). Titled “An Act to Amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act,” its purpose is to halt any further use of access to these commodities as part of trade deals with foreign countries such as what was done with the European Union, United States, Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries.
The actual written intent is to amend the existing act “to protect supply management from further dilution in future international trade agreements.”
Over the course of the following year, this amendment received its first (June 13, 2022), second (Feb. 8, 2023) and third readings (June 21, 2023) in the House of Commons as well as passed the Consideration in Committee (April 26, 2023) and Report stages (May 15, 2023).
With third reading in the House on June 21 of this year, where it passed with a vote count of 262 to 51, the bill was passed on to the Senators for their consideration and was debated on Sept. 26, Oct. 18, Oct. 24 and Nov. 2.
With Christmas break (Dec. 19 to Jan. 8, 2024) quickly approaching, it looks as if it will not pass the Senate’s scrutiny in 2023, which is a disappointment. All supply management farmers are hoping for its passage in early 2024 and before any further trade agreements can be signed.
Since the introduction of quotas and supply management to Canadian farms in 1972, the use of access to the dairy, poultry and eggs sector has been considered untouchable. A sacred cow of sorts. The system works well for both farmers and consumers.
With the bartering of access to complete trade agreements such as the Canadian European Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and Canada Trans Pacific Partnership (CTPP) by our Prime Minister, it has turned the system upside down.
Tax dollars have been used over the past four years to repay dairy farmers for the market access they lost due to CETA. Now that it has been completed, payments for loss of access due to CUSMA have started. This is not what people pay taxes for but there has been little to no growth in dairy since these trade agreements were signed. All the letter-writing, phone calls and negotiations carried out by all members of the dairy industry, from the grass roots farmers on up, resulted in nothing more than a bunch of baloney about market access being non-negotiable as it always had. Then, on the final announcements of completion and all smiles, it was announced what they had done — more baloney!
The longer it takes for Bill C-282 to complete its path through our government’s red tape, the more likelihood there is of supply management being opened up again in another trade agreement. Personally I couldn’t bear seeing another Justin Trudeau or Chrystia Freeland grinning from ear to ear as they announce yet again that they used access to our supply management. Something that hasn’t been done for over 51 years they have happily done at least twice while stating they wouldn’t.
Let’s get the push on to pass this bill and fast!
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.