Editor’s note: this audio was recorded during the day on Tuesday, November 21, prior to the Senate sitting for the day. We will update the story as details become available.
Conservative shadow minister for agriculture John Barlow is pushing to see Canadian senators finally hold the final vote on Bill C-234, the bill that will exempt barn heating and grain drying fuel from the carbon tax.
Farmers and ranchers in the western provinces, in Ottawa, and the Atlantic provinces have been holding rallies this week, standing up to make their voices heard on the importance of passing this bill. Barlow says it’s frustrating to see the Senate holding up a bill that will have a huge impact on farmers’ financial viability.
Barlow adds that even though the House of Commons passed this bill with multi-party support, Liberal MPs and cabinet ministers are working behind the scenes to push for this bill to be held up, perhaps indefinitely.
The Senate is supposed to be independent, but there are concerns it is clearly being partisan. “I think that’s really where a lot of this anger and frustration from the producers themselves is coming from that [senators] are ignoring or disrespecting the role of the House where this was passed with a very strong majority,” he says. “We want to see this passed as quickly as possible.” (More below)
“This is an opportunity for [producers and ranchers] to step up, get engaged, be vocal, and ensure that their voices are heard on a very important piece of legislation that the vast majority of what’s unanimous in all commodity groups in agriculture support this bill and we need them to get up and and make sure their voices are heard,” Barlow says.
Bill C-234 isn’t the only private members bill up for discussion in Parliament. Barlow spoke yesterday against Bill C-355, the bill that would ban the export of live horses by air for slaughter.
Barlow says that this bill is a very good example of the Liberal government not doing its due diligence. “We can’t be having legislation in the House of Commons that is based on emotion, on niche activism,” Barlow says. “We have to ensure that legislation tabled in the House of Commons is based on sound science, based on data, and based on testimony from the experts who understand the various aspects of this particular issue.”
Bill C-355 would have unintended, negative impacts on Metis and Indigenous communities, Barlow says, as well as the sport horse and horse racing industries.
Plus, the bill fails to acknowledge that the horse transport industry is already highly regulated and poor outcomes are extremely rare.
“The data shows that clearly there has not been a fatality of horses transported by air since 2014. The number of injuries is point .0012 per cent. I can’t imagine a safer and more animal-welfare driven mode of transportation,” Barlow says. “That’s what should be driving policy and driving legislation, not activism.”