By this time next week, Canadians will have a fairly good idea of what we will be dealing with for the next four years— hopefully.
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Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, talks to families virtually in Ottawa April 21, 2021. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS

After trade negotiations ravaged Canada’s agricultural supply management systems in dairy, eggs and poultry, farmers are now extremely leery of who – and who not – to trust.

The three most recent trade pacts  CETA (Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific partnership), and the CUSMA (Canada-U.S.- Mexico Agreement) have hit the dairy, egg, and poultry sectors extremely hard and promises to “make it up to us” have either not yet been completely fulfilled or no offers even made.  Ask any supply managed farm in Canada and I am sure they would reply they would rather their commodity had been left out of the trade deal than receive a fist full of dollars to make up for it.

So, it is completely natural for all farmers to be particularly interested in the parties’ agricultural policies. The agricultural policies posted for all four are very similar.

We have all seen what then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are capable of, despite professing to support supply management. It has added up to a decline of over 20 per cent in quota for dairy farmers, not to mention the other sectors.

The Conservatives have made as their first point under agriculture “respect and defend supply management,” but then they go on to say “… and ensure that farming families are engaged in any trade negotiations or programs impacting the sector.” Keep in mind most of the negotiations for CETA and CPTPP were conducted under a Conservative government, then finalized by the Liberals.

Something smells fishy here.

Have you ever heard of CANZUK? It is yet another free-trade agreement proposed by many, including the Conservative Party, between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

In 2017, several Conservative members of parliament broached it during their leadership convention  when Andrew Scheer was picked as leader. After his election in March 2017, at a debate in Vancouver, Scheer announced his support of CANZUK.

Since then, even more Conservative MPs have stated their support of CANZUK, including the current leader, Erin O’Toole, who, in April 2017, during a video with the supporting group CANZUK International where he proclaimed CANZUK to be a “no-brainer.”

In August 2018, the Conservative Party of Canada adopted CANZUK as an official party policy at its annual convention.

When he was chosen as the Conservative leader in August 2020, O’Toole announced CANZUK would be a party priority.

Canadians have just spent 18 months discovering how hard it is when everything is made in only one or two countries in the world, and not always easily imported. No laboratories to develop our own vaccines, no masks, no PPE, and on and on. Now we find ourselves in September 2021 in the very likely position of electing a party whose intent is to place Canada in an even worse trade situation.

Mind you, the alternative is by no means better.

Consider this: New Zealand’s main export is dairy products, shipping out 95 per cent of its production. It has over 6.11 million dairy cows. The dairy co-operative, Fonterra, owned by 11,000 New Zealand dairy farmers, current owns 81 per cent of New Zealand’s 21 billion litres of annual milk production.

Fonterra is primarily an export company, sending dairy to customers and consumers in over 130 countries. It is listed as the fifth-biggest dairy company in the world after Nestle (Switzerland), Lactalis (France), the Dairy Farmers of America (USA), and Danone (France). A few of those companies are already major players in the Canadian dairy industry.

Farming in Canada is between a rock and a hard place.

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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