Farm succession bill passes but not supply management

Brandon-Souris MP Larry Maguire saw his private member’s bill, aimed at lowering taxes on family farm businesses, pass in Parliament and sent to the Senate after receiving bipartisan support. | File photo

Legislation aimed at those who trespass in livestock operations did not make it to third reading; Wayne Easter to retire

With the possibility of an autumn election looming, MPs rose from the House of Commons June 23, marking the end to a parliamentary session featuring a handful of laws that affect agriculture.

Brandon-Souris MP Larry Maguire saw his private member’s bill, aimed at lowering taxes on family farm businesses, pass in Parliament and sent to the Senate after receiving bipartisan support.

The 199 votes for the bill came largely from Maguire’s Conservative Party, while the 128 opposing votes came from the governing Liberals, including agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Those in favour of the bill say it allows for farm succession.

“Parents will no longer have to be given a false choice of having to choose between a larger retirement package by selling to a stranger, or a massive tax bill because they sold to a family member— their own child or grandchild,” said Maguire, who received support from Keystone Agricultural Producers and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

A private member’s bill introduced by Louis Plamondon of the Bloc Québécois that would make supply management concessions illegal in future trade negotiations was not voted on.

It received second reading in Parliament and, after allegations of political delays, was studied by the international trade committee.

However, the dream of shielding supply-managed industries from trade negotiations might end with the current session.

That would be welcome news for opponents of the bill, which includes the Canadian Agri-Food Trading Alliance (CAFTA).

President Dan Darling had previously told parliamentarians that legislating the exclusion of products from a negotiation would irritate trading relationships, and the bill would tie negotiator’s hands.

“Put simply, this would be detrimental to our ability to generate growth and support about a million jobs across Canada,” he said in a 2020 letter on the subject.

Proponents of it, including representatives from supply-managed industries, said the law would allow continued predictability to ensure food security.

Foothills MP John Barlow’s bill to amend the Health of Animals Act also did not pass this parliamentary session. First introduced in 2020, the law aims to make it an offence to enter a place in which animals are kept if doing so could reasonably harm the animals.

While it passed second reading in March, the agriculture committee didn’t study it until the current session had almost ended and no vote on a third reading took place.

Jockeying for votes is expected to be a popular summertime exercise among MPs seeking re-election, as many political watchers are expecting an election within the coming months. One long-time MP who won’t be entering the fracas is Wayne Easter, who recently announced his retirement.

A stalwart in Canadian agriculture for decades, Easter came off his family’s farm in Prince Edward Island to work for the National Farmers Union, where he rose to prominence in his role as president championing the Crow Rate, a transportation benefit that helped reduce farmer shipping costs. He entered federal politics in 1993 as the Liberal MP for Malpeque, where he served in agriculture as a critic and parliamentary secretary.

Throughout his time in government, Easter was known as a fierce advocate, once arguing against his own Liberal government’s support of introducing rBGH, a bovine growth hormone that is still banned today.

“It has been my honour to work with and serve the residents of Malpeque, and it has been my honour to work with all members across political lines,” he said during his farewell speech to parliamentarians.

“It is the discussion, it is getting to know each other and it is the debate that, at the end of the day, makes for better policy and a better country.”

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