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Ag in Parliament’s fall session

Ag in Parliament’s fall session

Some ag items require attention, an industry rep said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

All 338 Members of Parliament returned to Ottawa on Monday to begin the fall session of the legislature.

Cost of living and affordability took centre stage on Monday, but there are some outstanding agriculture items the government needs to address.

With that at top of mind, connected with Tyler McCann, managing director of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, to discuss where ag could fit into this legislative session.

One item leftover from the summer sitting is Bill C-234.

This bill would provide carbon tax relief on propane and natural gas used for drying grain and heating barns.

The bill passed its second reading in the senate on June 13 and remains in the committee stage.

This bill isn’t likely to receive royal assent soon, McCann said.

“I think farmers are going to have to wait,” he said. “It really does seem like there’s different forces at play at getting it through the senate. I think the senate is going to get a lot of lobbying because there’s nearly one billion dollars at stake.”

And that number comes from the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO).

A report from the PBO indicates the carbon tax on propane and natural gas will cost Canadian farmers about $978 million through 2030.

Conservative MP Ben Lobb introduced Bill C-234 in February 2022.

The faster the senate passes the bill, the better off farmers will be, said John Barlow and Richard Lehoux, Conservative ag critics.

“Canadian farm operations can’t afford to pay these crushing taxes and remain in business.  As Canadians struggle with Trudeau’s record high inflation, skyrocketing food prices, housing affordability crisis, and cost of living crisis, the financial burdens also take their toll on family farms and our proud farming heritage,” they said in a joint statement. “Our previous attempt with Bill C-206 made it to the Senate in 2021 but died when Prime Minister Trudeau called an election. Once again, our common sense legislation is before the Senate, and Canadian farmers cannot afford to wait any longer for Bill C-234 to pass.”

Another ag bill outstanding from the summer session is C-282.

This legislation, introduced by the Bloc’s Luc Thériault in June 2022, would remove supply management from any future trade deals. It passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 21, 2023.

This bill is likely to remain in the senate, McCann says.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of effort to keep it in the senate and make sure it doesn’t get passed,” he said.

An additional trade item the government may have to address is CPTPP.

The Canadian livestock sector launched its Say No to a Bad Deal campaign in response to the U.K.’s accession into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Britain refuses to accept some Canadian production practices, leading to a trade imbalance of about $50 million.

But it’s unlikely this topic receives lots of attention, McCann said.

“I don’t think we’re going to see ag trade be part of the agenda this fall,” he said. “Unless we see a very strong reaction from the livestock sector and all of Canadian agriculture.”

And what of Minister MacAulay?

The Canadian ag sector will have to wait until he receives his direction from the prime minister, McCann says.

“I think we’ll have to wait to see what his mandate letter says and if the prime minister gives him any specific directions,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for amendments to the Canada Grain Act, so that could be something to watch for. But at this point I don’t know how much space he’ll get to be front and centre in the House.”

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