Ag in the House: April 15 – 19

Ag in the House: April 15 – 19
Apr 22, 2024

Minister MacAulay responded to a question from Conservative MP Philip Lawrence

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Conservative MP Philip Lawrence asked the government on April 15 if it would pass Bill C-234 in its original form to lower the price of food.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay answered, citing his experiences as a farmer, and witnessing the effects of climate change.

“Being a farmer, I am fully aware that farmers are on the front line of climate change,” the minister said. “They see the devastating impacts of climate change in this country and the destruction of barns, killing cattle.”

The minister also cited the price on pollution and the Canada carbon rebate.

In his follow-up, Lawrence pressed on about Bill C-234 and asked the government to send a message to people lining up at food banks.

Steve MacKinnon, the government House leader, responded.

He told the House that Bill C-234 is in the Conservatives hands and they can bring the bill to a floor vote.

Also on April 15, Damien Kurek, the Conservative MP for Battle River-Crowfoot, asked about Bill C-234.

He cited Vermeer’s Dairy near Camrose, which estimates will be paying $1,500 per month in additional carbon taxes by 2030.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson fielded the question.

He told the House that 300 economists across the country agree that a price on pollution is the best way to reduce carbon emissions and address affordability.

When Rachel Thomas, the Conservative MP for Lethbridge asked about removing the carbon tax on farmers and passing Bill C-234, Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault responded.

He told the house that 97 per cent of “farm liquids” are exempt from the price on pollution, and that Tyler McCann from The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute said there’s no relation between the price of food and the carbon tax.

Richard Lehoux, the Conservative MP for Beauce, said exempting farmers from the carbon tax is “the fastest way to make food more affordable and to keep our farmers in business,” before asking if the government would pass Bill C-234 in the April 16 budget.

Environment Minister Steven Guillbeault answered Lehoux.

The minister told the House that farmers aren’t talking to him about the carbon tax.

“They are talking to me about how the impacts of climate change are costing the agricultural industry hundreds of millions of dollars across the country,” he said.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, the former ag minister and current minister of national revenue, answered a Bill C-234 follow up from Lehoux.

Bibeau reminded the House that Quebec has a carbon exchange program. And that the government’s approach is to provide incentives to improve farming practices.

During question period on April 16, Lianne Rood, the Conservative MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, wanted to know if the federal budget would include Bill C-234’s passage.

Gudie Hutchings, the minister of rural economic development, provided the answer, reminding the House that rural communities receive more in top-ups.

Warren Steinley, the Conservative MP for Regina-Lewvan, also asked about Bill C-234 and providing farmers with carbon tax relief.

Minister Wilkinson reminded the House that many Conservatives “ran on a platform that included a price on pollution. That is the height of hypocrisy,” he said.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and Prime Minister Trudeau sparred over the carbon tax in general on April 17, but nothing related to farmers or agriculture.

On April 18, John Barlow, the Conservative MP for Foothills and the shadow ag minister, told the House he’s received letters from “tens of thousands of farm families from right across the country,” saying Bill C-234 needs to be passed to ensure sustainable food production in Canada.

Minister MacAulay responded by saying the budget is good for farmers in part because it enhances the Livestock Tax Deferral Program.

When Barlow followed up about passing Bill C-234, Minister MacAulay pointed at previous Conservative actions related to ag.

“Quite simply, when they were in power, they slashed half a billion dollars from agriculture and agri-food,” he said. “They slashed $200 million from the business risk management program. All of these things are so important when agriculture has a downturn. We have reinstated the funds, and we will continue to support our farmers and ranchers right across the country.”

On April 19, Mr. Lehoux told the House that farmers are asked to fill pantries while Bill C-234 prevents them from doing so, and asked the Liberals to pass the bill.

Francis Drouin, the parliamentary secretary to Minister MacAulay, answered by saying Lehoux’s Conservative colleagues can bring the bill to a vote whenever they like.

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