One of the three declared candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, boldly came out against supply management on Tuesday, and asked his fellow Tories to join him.
In his statement, the Quebec MP and former Minister of State for Agriculture said that though the Conservative Party’s official policy supports the marketing system for dairy, eggs and poultry, it’s something he has “grave misgivings about.”
As an MP and minister in a government that supported supply management, I was not in a position to question the party’s democratic decision, or cabinet solidarity. And so I went along with it like all my colleagues, even though I had grave misgivings about it for all these years.
Bernier, who’s known for his libertarian leanings, went on to call the system “inefficient and fundamentally unfair to Canadian consumers and to our farmers.”
He wrote that the system stifles innovation and productivity, doesn’t adapt to changes in demand, and is unfair to other farmers who are unable to develop export markets because of the country’s protective stance on supply management.
In order to protect 10 per cent of farmers, we are forcing all Canadian families, especially those with children and low-income families, to pay hundreds of dollars more every year for dairy, eggs and poultry products. This system is fundamentally unfair to Canadian families.
According to Bernier, the best way forward is to follow the system of change in Australia, with a multi-year phase-out of import barriers, domestic quotas and price control. Temporary levies on dairy products would help pay farmers for their quota, he wrote, and result in a a free, open and fair system for all, with lower prices, innovation, and more growth in the whole agricultural sector.
While Bernier’s announcement certainly makes waves, he’s not the first leadership contender for a major federal party in recent history to propose ending supply management. Martha Hall Findlay published a report calling for the end of the marketing system prior to running for the Liberal leadership (ultimately losing to Justin Trudeau) in 2012-13.
Bernier’s press conference on supply management (as posted via Facebook Live):
Social Media Response:
— CAFTA ACCA (@CAFTA_ACCA) May 31, 2016
— Adam Crites (@JesusCrites10) May 31, 2016
— Colin Arenburg (@Cmarenburg) May 31, 2016
An idea whose time had come – years ago. Kudos to him! Maxime Bernier: I’m coming out against supply management https://t.co/nlXl8OH4GP
— Adam Daifallah (@adamdaif) May 31, 2016
— Colton Ness (@Colton_Ness) May 31, 2016
Glad to see @MaximeBernier stand up against supply management. I was disappointed that SM abolition proposal didn’t make it to convention.
— Ashley (@effyes) May 31, 2016
— Ruth Dunlop (@ruthdunlop1) May 31, 2016