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View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-02-24 18:58 [p.1466]
Madam Speaker, it is an opportunity for me to rise today and build on a question I asked last week with regard to the illegal blockades and the ramifications they are having on Canada's economy, but certainly specific to Canadian agriculture.
I want to reiterate that this is a critical situation. The situation for Canadian agriculture is at a crisis, where producers are not able to move their products. The agriculture industry is so trade-reliant that their inability to move their products from farm to terminal to port has crippled their ability to do business.
I had said there are about 50 ships off the port of Vancouver and about 19 ships off the port of Prince Rupert. I want to apologize to the House because I was a little off on my numbers during my question. In fact, it is not 50 ships off the port of Vancouver, it is actually 85. We have seen in just a couple of days how that number has expanded to a critical stage.
As a result, when there are 100 ships off of the B.C. coast waiting to be loaded with grain, that is having a profound impact on Canadian grain farmers. They are short about 400,000 tonnes of grain. We have a backlog of 20,000 grain cars and this is costing Canadian grain farmers more than $300 million.
I want to quote Mary Robinson, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, “How many blows can we take? The rail barricades are already causing propane shortages used to heat livestock barns, and delays in grain shipments, which are estimated to be costing the industry about $63 million...a week.”
We are close to three weeks into this crisis and there is still no resolution. On the good side, the Prime Minister said on Friday that these blockades must come down. It is ironic that he felt those comments disqualified the Leader of the Opposition from even participating in a meeting to discuss this crisis, but three days later he took almost verbatim the same position as the Leader of the Opposition.
However, my concern is when the Prime Minister said the blockades must come down, which are illegal as stated by a court injunction, he did not table a distinct plan to ensure that those blockades would come down.
We have heard that some blockades have been dismantled, but at the same time, other blockades have arisen in their place, maybe a few miles away on a different railroad or a different bridge or a different highway. We have to see very distinct, concrete plans from the government to ensure that illegal blockades are removed. As I said, for Canadian agriculture this is particularly damaging.
I spoke with some of the Canadian National Millers Association members as well. They mentioned it is days, not weeks, before they are out of wheat and oats. Let us imagine Canadian shoppers going to grocery stores this week or next week and there is no bread on the shelves. The other issue is there is no feed for animals. If the millers do not have the source wheat, they cannot produce feed for livestock.
Therefore, this is going to be more and more a critical problem for Canadian agriculture, but especially the Canadian economy which is on its knees. I would like to hear a concrete plan from the parliamentary secretary on how these blockades are going to be removed.
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