The next Canadian federal election will take place on Monday, October 21, 2019. For producers, the next election is an opportunity for the interests of agriculture to reinforced by voting for your local candidate with the strongest background and most favourable policy positions in this area.
Approaching the upcoming election, Alberta Pork has previously covered the need for federal government support for international market access, business risk management programs and African Swine Fever preparedness. We have also provided profiles of our producers’ constituencies and available candidates.
On September 25, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture hosted a debate for party representatives of agriculture. Some of the information below has been sourced from that debate. Other information has been pulled from the parties’ platforms, the last of which was released on October 11. Full party platforms are linked below.
Where the parties stand
The Conservative Party of Canada would:
- Help farmers and agri-food businesses hit hard by market uncertainty by convening a meeting with farm groups to assess the damage and determine how to help farmers.
- Challenge China’s actions at the World Trade Organization and urge for increased inspections on Chinese imports.
- Deliver compensation to farmers affected by free-trade deals.
- Protect supply management while opening new markets for our farmers who depend on exports.
- Implement an agriculture and agri-food labour strategy, ensuring farmers and processors ensure access to the workers that they need.
- Work with provinces and farmers to make Agri-Stability more simple, predictable, bankable and timely.
- Postpone the Humane Transport Regulations to ensure they are based on complete evidence.
Analysis: The Conservative platform is responsive and acceptable for many commodity sectors.
- The Conservative platform addresses many of the broad issues facing Canada’s many agriculture sector. However, like most parties, the Conservatives strongly favour supply-managed commodities in their platform, which may concern commodity groups that are not supply-managed, including pork. Unique and positive in this platform is the reference to postponing the introduction of new animal transport regulations.
- Addressing the damages done by market uncertainty would be a great first step in helping Canada’s pork industry recover from the difficulties we have experience in trade. The recovery, though, will take more than a meeting. In this platform, compensation for trade losses seems to cover only supply-managed commodities, but the pork industry would fully hope and expect to be a part of that consideration, since our request for compensation has been on the table for more than a year.
- This platform gives specific consideration to business risk management—one of only two party platforms to do that. This is a priority area for the pork industry, and we would like to see an overhaul of existing programs, which this platform alludes to.
Quotes from Luc Berthold, MP, Mégantic-L’Erable (Quebec) & Official Opposition agriculture critic:
- “Business risk management is an instrument; you are a part of this instrument. You have to be part of the solution, and we will talk about the solution with you. But first, the government should help, not get in the way… This is the way we will address it.”
- “The current government has closed us off to agricultural markets abroad. The onus is on the government to open this up, whereas they’re doing the opposite—they’re closing these markets.”
- “Many actions could have been taken for some time on this China issue… Unfortunately, since January, the Government of Canada has done nothing; there’s just inertia. We should have sent a delegation to determine whether the Chinese information was accurate and reliable.”
The Green Party of Canada would:
- Establish climate change emission targets for all components of the food system, including nitrogen fertilizer use, livestock production and transportation.
- Adopt animal welfare legislation to prevent inhumane treatment of farm animals including in intensive factory farming operations. This will set minimum standards of treatment and have a timetable for phasing out intensive factory farming and other inhumane animal husbandry practices.
- Set a target to replace a third of Canada’s food imports with domestic production, increasing regional food self-reliance and returning 15 billion food dollars back into our economy
- Assist in re-establishing the infrastructure for local food production in canneries, slaughterhouses and other value-added food processing.
- Protect supply management systems while allowing production for local markets outside this system.
- Restructure Canada’s Business Risk Management Programs to help farmers cope with climate risk, with the focus on disaster assistance
Analysis: The Green platform relies on several poorly informed, baseless and offensive assumptions.
- Canada’s livestock producers already uphold the highest standards of animal care, based on existing quality assurance programs and codes of practice governing animal handling. To suggest that more must be done to prevent producers from operating efficiently is something that the pork sector strongly opposes.
- The charged terminology around “factory farming” distances the party from the reality of modern agriculture, which may be large-scale, technological and often export-based, but it is not a nameless, faceless practice.
- All pork producers, large and small, work for their families, their communities and our country. This includes production for both domestic and foreign markets, which is the reality of our global economy. This platform characterizes producers in an unusual and shocking way for those who are intimately involved with agriculture.
See the Greens’ full 2019 election platform.
Quotes from Kate Storey, candidate, Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa (Manitoba):
- “Those big, specialized farms that agriculture depends on are in danger of going bankrupt… Now taxpayers are paying to prop up industrial hog barns that the taxpayer doesn’t like. That’s not a good idea.”
- “Nobody has the right to trespass, and I don’t know why activists are labelled any worse than anybody else. Protesting is legal in Canada… but no-one is allowed to damage property or trespass.”
- “The Greens will re-focus agriculture onto high-quality. We’ll improve animal welfare standards… get the antibiotics out of pork… so we can serve the domestic Canadian demands, and we’ll support organic agriculture that’s already focused on quality… We have to make trade work for Canadians and farmers, not just focus on the grain and the meat exports and neglect everything else.”
The Liberal Party of Canada would:
- Expand support for farmers facing major environmental and business risks
- Move forward with a collaborative review of Canada’s business risk management programs, with a special focus on Agri-Stability
- Increase federal support to farmers to help them manage risks beyond their control
- Merge existing financial and advisory services currently scattered between several agencies into Farm Credit Canada, whose mandate will be expanded and enhanced, serving as a single point of service to help all parts of Canada’s food economy develop, grow, and export to new markets
- Move forward with increasing capital lending capability by up to $5 billion per year, on top of the existing support delivered by Farm Credit Canada
- Continue to defend supply management and work with supply-managed sectors to succeed under new and proposed trade agreements
- Increase Canada’s exports to be worth $75 billion by 2025
Analysis: The Liberal platform offers some compelling points for producers, based on experience.
- The Liberal platform specifically addresses some key issues for pork producers in the area of business risk management and lending capacity. If these initiatives were successfully undertaken, this could be quite beneficial for our producers.
- This platform appears to be very reflective of feedback received by the governing party, including the feedback of pork producers, but this begs the question why this promised support has not already been delivered at least in part.
- All in all, this platform comes off as clear, strong and politically neutral, but decisions by the governing party over the past four years could negatively affect producers’ perceptions.
Quotes from Marie-Claude Bibeau, MP, Compton-Stanstead (Quebec) & Minister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:
- “The Chinese situation is very complicated… From the outset, we have stood behind our farmers… We have formed a working group, because it is important to take the right decisions. We have improved advanced payment programs, as they asked for. We have increased the capacity for our producers to take loans… We have expanded the AgriStability program, so we have some measures in place to support them.”
- “When it comes to meat, there was an issue with the export certificates. Our decisions are in keeping with what the Chinese authorities have requested, and we hope that this blockage will be resolved as soon as possible, so that the Chinese market can re-open.”
- “We understand that the business risk management tools are not adequate for new challenges… We have decided to put these programs on a fast track and improve them sooner.”
The New Democratic Party of Canada would:
- Fully protect the supply management system in trade talks.
- Defend Canadian agricultural products from unfair retaliation in overseas markets.
- Fully compensate farmers for losses incurred in past trade negotiations.
- Implement a Canadian Food Strategy that will take a whole-of-government approach to address regional needs and priorities by investing in agricultural communities, supporting young and new farmers, and taking steps to ensure that rural livelihoods are good and sustainable.
- Work with the provinces to improve training opportunities across the country and provide low-cost start-up loans for new farmers, along with providing support for succession planning, making it easier for family farms to stay in the family.
- Bring together farmers and the provinces to develop a national strategy to address mental health challenges facing farmers and to ensure that farmers can get the help they need, when they need it.
- Invest in public agricultural research and data collection.
Analysis: The New Democrat platform takes a progressive but isolationist approach to agriculture.
- While the New Democrats want to focus on areas that concern everyday life for farmers and long-term development of the industry, more immediate issues surrounding international trade decline and free-market restrictions make this platform unideal or at least insufficient for the pork sector.
- In some areas, the platform does address important issues, including compensation, loans and research, but these alone do not support financial sustainability in a free-market environment. For certain other agricultural commodity groups, the New Democrat platform could be compelling, but for pork, it does not take a strong enough stance in key areas.
- Specific mention of mental health initiatives in agriculture is unique among the platforms here. This issue is important to the pork sector, and we would support such initiatives.
Quotes from Alistair MacGregor, MP, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford (B.C.):
- “It’s very integral that we have a dynamic business risk management program suite that is adaptable to changing situations… I would absolutely support a review of the entire business risk management program suite to ensure that they are prepared for the worst-case scenarios.”
- “Farmers often live where they work, so invading their personal space causes a lot of stress, and, in fact, is probably causing a lot more stress and harm to the animals that these protestors are purporting to protect.”
- “We have to start letting the Chinese authorities know there are consequences to continuing this dispute without bring up the necessary evidence that something was wrong in the first place.”
The People’s Party of Canada would:
- Spur agriculture growth through increased exports.
- Extend accelerated capital cost allowance rates to agriculture.
- Create a free, open, and fair system that will save Canadians billions of dollars annually thanks to the lower prices they will pay for dairy, egg and poultry products.
- Phase out the supply management system over a number of years to allow farmers to adapt, and compensate them for the lost value of their quotas.
- Allow Canada’s dairy, egg and poultry farmers to thrive and sell their products internationally.
- Limit the number of temporary foreign workers and make sure that they fulfil temporary positions and do not compete unfairly with Canadian workers.
Analysis: The People’s Party platform positively addresses some issues facing the pork sector but is neutral or negative on others.
- Spurring growth through exports has been the M.O. of the pork sector for many years. This approach is where we have invested ourselves, and it is one our sector supports fully. The Canadian pork industry, especially in Alberta, has struggled to keep up with demand for modernized facilities, due to the high costs. Accelerate allowance rates could help speed up development.
- The People’s Party’s opposition to supply management is very clear, making this platform unique in that regard. The Canadian pork industry is not supply-managed.
- Pork producers across the country rely heavily on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), since the industry is facing a huge labour shortage that is struggling to be filled by Canadian residents. Our industry’s position is that “temporary, foreign” workers should become “permanent, Canadian” workers, and the People’s Party platform seems to go against that.
The People’s Party did not participate in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture debate.
For more information on party platforms, visit the websites of the Conservative Party of Canada, Green Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party of Canada and People’s Party of Canada.
Keep an eye out for upcoming Alberta Pork articles and be sure to pay attention to news and social media leading up to the election.
If you would like more information on the 2019 Canadian federal election, contact Andrew Heck, Communication Programs Coordinator, Alberta Pork by email at email@example.com or by phone at 780-491-3527, toll-free at 1-877-247-PORK (7675).