With the call of the federal election, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers asked each of the registered parties six questions that we thought would be of interest to our members and specifically prairie grain farmers.
On August 20, 2021 the following questions were sent to each party. As of September 14, 2021, we heard back from 4 parties. Should other parties submit their answers, we will update the survey.
1. As the next federal government, what would your top priorities be for farmers and the agriculture industry across the prairies?
For the past six years, Western farmers have been subject to a government that has not had their best interests in mind. Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government have systematically attacked our Western industries. Conservatives have fought to ensure that the interests of Canadian wheat growers are represented in Parliament. Most notably, we prevented the Liberals’ unfair tax treatment of family farms passed down to a family member and we advocated for more access to markets for agricultural products.
We are pleased to share key components of Canada’s Recovery Plan, our plan to get the economy back on track, in answer to your questions.
Canada’s farmers not only feed our cities but also supply good food to the world. With the global population growing and getting richer, the need for trusted food sources will only get larger. We have an opportunity to boost exports and jobs in the agricultural sector if we get this right. COVID-19 has also demonstrated the vital importance of a strong agricultural industry to maintain our supply chains and ensure the food security of Canadians.
We’ll work to connect Canadians to farmers with initiatives like local food hubs, community-supported agriculture, and networks to increase the amount of food that is sold, processed, and consumed in local and regional markets.
We will also work with farmers and food producers to develop a National Food Policy, making our food systems stronger across the country – including food labelling and traceability, so that Canadians can be confident in what they’re purchasing. Part of this policy will include a food waste strategy to reduce the huge amounts of food that currently go to waste.
2. International trade is a key factor for prairie farmers. What is your party’s position on free and competitive markets, including the elimination of export subsidies, the reduction of trade-distorting domestic support and reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers that inhibit foreign market access?
It’s clear that there is work to be done and more consultation is needed from our farmers in international negotiations. We will ensure that farming families are engaged in any trade negotiations or programs impacting their sector and that the Minister of Agriculture is at the table for those negotiations. We will also commit to opening new markets for our grain and oilseed producers in our free trade negotiations.
New Democrats know that trade deals must be fair to everyday Canadians because they are key to our economic success. We support fair trade that broadens opportunity in all areas of the country, while protecting our industries and upholding labour standards, environmental protections, and human rights. We will always defend Canadian workers, protect supply management, and stand up against unfair tariffs.
For the purpose of mutual growth and cooperative enterprise, allied nations, particularly nations sharing a border, should seek to avoid unnecessary tariffs and trade restrictions between them.
3. Will your party support the reporting of daily / weekly grain and oilseed export sales?
4. Moving grain and oilseeds to market is vital for the entire food supply chain. Farmers depend on a modern transportation infrastructure to move seed and fertilizer as well as the export of grain. What is your party’s position on the grain transportation system and the ability to maintain an accountable and efficient system considering possible future overcrowding on the rail system? How will your party support rural infrastructure investment?
A Conservative government will scrap the failed Canada Infrastructure Bank. We will commit the unused money sitting in reserve to infrastructure projects that can strengthen our economy. We will reprioritize the Investing in Canada Plan towards infrastructure projects that would have the maximum benefit for our economic recovery. Specifically, this will target projects that strengthen transit and trade. We will also reduce bureaucratic red tape in the application process, so money can get out the door faster where it’s needed, including to projects that support important supply chains.
Conservative recognize the importance of infrastructure projects in creating jobs and spurring a strong recovery. After a summer of intense drought for Western farmers, strategic projects like the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project will be critical for the success of Canadian wheat growers and our agricultural sector as a whole. A Conservative government will commit to the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project to support the growth of diverse, high-value crops and improve climate resiliency.
Farmers also need to be able to count on existing rail infrastructure. Last year’s rail blockades demonstrated the importance – and vulnerability – of the infrastructure that ties our country together. We will pass a Critical Infrastructure Protection Act to prevent protestors from blocking key infrastructure. Peaceful protest is a fundamental right in Canada, but respect for the rule of law means that illegal blockades that shut down critical infrastructure, threaten access to vital supplies, or endanger lives cannot be tolerated.
5. The current regulatory process for the approval of agricultural innovations that make farmers more profitable and sustainable is slow and burdensome. What will your party do to expedite a science-based regulatory approval process for the introduction of new technologies, including the adoption of genetically modified crops?
Canada’s Conservatives will:
- Appoint a Minister Responsible for Red Tape Reduction tasked with introducing and passing at least one red tape reduction bill per year, eliminating unneeded or counterproductive red tape.
- Create an Office of Regulatory Best Practice with business members who evaluate the costs of new regulation.
- Form Industry Councils (e.g. biotech, retail, etc.) that will provide recommendations on world-leading regulation.
- Improving cost-benefit analysis of regulatory proposals by requiring consultation with industry so that regulators understand the true impact and consider lower-impact alternatives to achieve the same result.
- Fix the Impact Assessment process that is making it impossible to build major projects in Canada, based on the bipartisan Senate recommendations, and repeal Trudeau’s Tanker Ban.
- Create a Fast Track Certification Process that provides a faster path to approval for products that have already been approved in comparable jurisdictions.
Canada’s Conservatives will also make Canada a great place to invest in innovative technologies. We will make Canada a low tax jurisdiction for innovation and new product development by introducing a “patent box” regime to cut the tax rate in half on income earned from patents on innovative products developed here.
Conservatives further recognize the importance of protecting more Canadian innovation with patents. We will cover up to $10,000 of the administrative and legal costs of each of the first five patents filed by any Canadian small or medium-sized business.
We know innovators looking for assistance from the Government of Canada are confronted with a long list of programs with complex requirements and extensive paperwork. Canada’s Conservatives will simplify these programs and reform them so that they benefit Canadian innovators.
On another front, 25 per cent of Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) funding goes to consultants rather than innovators. This important program is a badly broken administrative nightmare that fuels an ecosystem of consultants and advisory firms instead of focusing on research and development. We will streamline and accelerate the SR&ED program.
6. The current government has called for a 30% reduction in fertilizer emmisions. Currently there is no plan of how to achieve this, without a 30% reduction in the use of fertilizer. What will your government do with this proposal?
Conservatives will introduce a tax credit to rapidly accelerate the deployment of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage technology in the energy sector. We will also accelerate their deployment to important industries that have few alternatives to burning fossil fuels, like fertilizer and chemical production.
Canadian wheat growers deserve to have the full support of our government. The hard work and contributions of our farmers and agricultural producers have been taken for granted for far too long.
A Conservative government would welcome the opportunity to engage with the Canadian Wheat Growers Association to further discuss the priorities of both the association and your members.