While other federal Conservative leadership candidates — including front-runner Maxime Bernier — are lining up to take potshots at supply management one long-shot is offering his support.
Erin O’Toole is taking a strong pro-family farm stand in his campaign, putting himself in opposition to others who want to terminate supply management.
O’Toole says his position has drawn support from hundreds of farmers across the country who insist supply management is not a cartel or monopoly as Bernier and others charge.
“When someone compares our dairy and poultry family farms to cartels like OPEC, they demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of agriculture and show their willingness to let agriculture producers be used like political props,” he said during a recent Ontario campaign event.
“Hard-working farm families often struggle to make a fair living producing food for Canadians. But now, Justin Trudeau threatens to devastate Canadian agriculture with a carbon tax. And other Conservative leadership hopefuls promise to pull the rug out from under them by ending supply management. One even referred to Canadian poultry and dairy farmers as a cartel like OPEC.”
A Conservative government headed by O’Toole “will stand up for our family farms and the important role they play in our communities, our environment and for our economy.”
“We are truly blessed with an abundance of food in Canada and all too often take for granted the bounty that surrounds us,” he added. “Thousands of Canadians are involved directly on the farm and thousands more in the food processing, feed, implements, transportation and supply sectors across the country. Not only are our farming families feeding Canada, Conservative governments have helped these family farms feed the world and create a stronger economy.”
He said previous Conservative governments negotiated new trade deals such as the free trade agreement with Europe “to ensure new markets could be opened up for all of agriculture while protecting supply management.”
In addition to protecting the dairy and poultry sectors resulting from import changes coming from the CETA and TPP trade deals, he said he will end the Liberal carbon tax which will drive up farm input costs like diesel fuel, natural gas, fertilizer, transportation and electricity.
He would also push for more market access for livestock, grain and oilseed producers in free trade negotiations and support more agriculture research.
He also wants more harmonization of farm product regulations with Canada’s trading partners and to ensure farm safety net programs are predictable, bankable and manageable.
He also wants the environmental stewardship provided by Canadian farmers to be recognized and rewarded for its positive impacts on wetlands conservation, carbon sequestration, reforestation, species protection and maintaining pollinator habitat.