Dairy producers are betrayed by the Trudeau government’s early ratification of the new NAFTA deal
The Honourable Don Plett, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, issued the following statement:
On March 13, 2020, the Senate of Canada approved the new NAFTA deal, formally known as Bill C-4, the Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States (CUSMA) in one day. This legislation was fast-tracked in the Senate because the government felt the legislation had to receive royal assent prior to the adjournment of the House of Commons and the Senate, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Conservatives agreed to move forward on this legislation based on one important caveat: that the new deal come into force only after August 1, 2020. This date marks the beginning of the dairy calendar year, and had this date been respected, it would have allowed dairy industry to save about $100 million.
“Seven weeks ago, the Trudeau government looked us straight in the eye and said they would not ratify this deal early. On April 3, Minister Freeland went back on her promise. Since the United States also ratified the treaty last week, the treaty will now come into force on July 1. The Trudeau government has decided they won’t stand up to protect Canada’s dairy industry. It’s inexcusable that this solemn commitment to our dairy farmers now has to be added to the long list of broken promises made by the Trudeau government.
This is a serious breach of trust. How can Canadians and parliamentarians trust this government when their words have no meaning? This is completely outrageous. Prime Minister Trudeau has been preaching from Rideau Cottage that all of us need to take a Team Canada approach. Well, his government should lead by example, and defend the interests of all Canadians, including our hard-working farmers,” said Senator Plett.
In the weeks and months leading up to the Royal Assent of Bill C-4, Senator Plett heard the serious concerns raised by the dairy industry – specifically surrounding the timing of the ratification of CUSMA. Canada’s dairy industry is losing the most out of this deal, as 3.9% of the Canadian market is now opened up to imports.
“In contrast with the Trudeau Government, Conservatives actually took the time to hear the concerns raised by the dairy processors. We negotiated with the Trudeau Government in good faith. We insisted on the August 1 timeframe, and we received a guarantee.
The government’s latest decision to move ahead with CUSMA on the backs of our dairy processors in the middle of a global pandemic is completely inexcusable. How can Canadians trust that the government is doing everything it can to protect and defend the Canadian economy when they are willing to give up on one of the founding industries in our country?
The deal for the agreement to come into effect July 1 is inexcusable. It’s shameful that the interests of this vital industry that creates a significant number of good jobs, and therefore, the interests of all Canadians haven’t been the government’s priority,” said Senator Plett.
Senator Plett said, “One has to wonder if the government was forced into this weakened position with our biggest trading partner as a result of the Prime Minister’s overall mismanagement of this crisis, and his strained relationship with the Trump administration.”
Facts on the CUSMA deal:
- According to the Dairy Processors Association of Canada, the early signing represents $100 million in additional losses to the Canadian dairy industry in the 2020-21 dairy year;
- Annual losses for dairy farmers will be $190 million for market access loss
- Annual losses for dairy processors will be $140 million because of market access loss
- $50 million annual losses for the industry due to the export caps placed on skim milk powder, milk protein concentrates and infant formula.
Senator Plett’s Second Reading speech on Bill C-4 is available here: https://www.sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/431/debates/017db_2020-03-13-e#23