Trade Minister’s comments raise serious concerns
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CFA Executive Director
(OTTAWA) – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is expressing serious concerns with comments made by David Emerson, Minister of International Trade, in an interview with the Western Producer. In an article appearing in the December 21 issue of the Western Producer Emerson questions whether Canada should continue to defend supply management in international trade negotiations.
“The CFA is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to clarify the position of his government,” said CFA President Bob Friesen. “Does his government still support Canada’s balanced trade position on increasing market access, eliminating export subsidies and preserving the right of farmers in all countries to choose orderly marketing systems.”
In his comments Minister Emerson states that Canada’s position on supply management has put limits on Canadian trade negotiators and has caused Canada to miss out on trade agreements that would have increased market access for Canadian exporters. This runs contrary to assertions by Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Chuck Strahl following the last round of WTO talks. At that time Minister Strahl was emphatic in stating that defense of supply management had not isolated Canada in trade talks and was not creating a roadblock to the progress of negotiations on increasing market access.
In the current debate over the future of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) farmers have expressed their concern over the approach being taken by the federal government, and what precedents it might set for other farmer-directed marketing systems. In a recent commentary on the CWB Minister Strahl and Justice Minister Vic Toews insisted they continue to support supply management.
“We have a high level federal cabinet minister making statements that directly contradict previous statements by other ministers and call into question what farmers have been repeatedly assured is the position of the Government of Canada,” said Friesen. “I think it’s understandable that farmers are very concerned right now.”
Founded in 1935 to provide Canada's farmers with a single voice in Ottawa, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country's largest farmers' organization. Its members include provincial general farm organizations as well as national and inter-provincial commodity organizations from every province. Through its members, CFA represents over 200,000 Canadian farmers and farm families.