Norma l l y, mot ions such as the one to extend hearings on Bill C-474, are rubber stamped by Parliament.
But Alex Atamanenko, the NDP MP for B.C. Southern Interior, says the Conservatives engineered the motion’s defeat in the House of Commons Oct. 27.
Atamanenko, who is a member of the House of Commons’ agriculture committee, said in an interview recently he agreed to postpone work on the bill one day so the committee could meet with officials from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to discuss farm policies.
The Conservative members were opposed to having AAFC officials appear before the committee. “As a result, I guess they’re punishing me for that,” Atamanenko said.
The vote on C-474 was the same evening as one on C-300, a bill that would make Canadian mining companies more responsible when operating in foreign countries. A lot of Liberal and NDP MPs were absent because they didn’t want to vote on the controversial bill.
Had the vote on C-474 been a week earlier, Atamanenko said it would’ve probably passed.
“I would’ve expected my Conservative colleagues would have at least allowed me the courtesy of having my bill debated to the fullest,” he said. “I’m really upset with how my colleagues on the committee have treated me… “
The Conservatives oppose the bill, which proposes the federal government analyze “the potential harm to (Canadian) export markets,” of new GM crops before approving them for commercial release.
The Liberals, while supporting the bill’s intent, say they’ll vote against it too.
Ending debate early demonstrates how much power the biotechnology industry has, according to Atamanenko.
“This is not a philosophical debate on the merits of genetic modified technology,” Atamanenko said. “It’s trying to get some protection for farmers in case the technology runs rampant. My immediate concern is in the area of alfalfa – the alfalfa farmers and those organic farmers who rely on alfalfa. It’s not possible to contain contamination, that’s been proven. This bill would’ve kept that in check because the dangers are there.”
Although it looks like the bill will be defeated, Atamanenko said he will continue to lobby MPs, especially Liberals, for support. [email protected]
“TheConservatives didn’tlikethisatall andasaresultIguess they’repunishing meforthat.”
– alex atamanenko