(Ottawa) candidate in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party, the member for Beauce Maxime Bernier calls for the abolition of the supply management system, which, according to him, is nothing less than a “cartel legal limits competition “and inflates the price of dairy products, poultry and eggs in the country.
Although many farmers are in his own riding, Mr. Bernier believes the time has come to end this system that costs $ 2.6 billion a year to consumers.
“This system is fundamentally unfair for Canadian families. Defenders of the supply management system say it provides stability of prices to farmers, but the downside is that this system does not adapt to changes in demand and it discourages innovation and productivity, “he said at a news conference Tuesday.
The official policy of the Conservative Party – and therefore the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper – has always been to defend supply management. This has been the case during the negotiations leading to the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the European as well as at Union negotiations that concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Mr. Bernier himself defended this principle to be secured to the policy of his government. Now that he is running for the leadership of his party, he wants to start a debate on this thorny issue, hoping to convince his party members to adopt it at the next Conservative convention expected in two years.
“As an MP and minister in a government that supported supply management, I was not able to question the democratic decision of the members of my party or my duty to Cabinet solidarity. So I supported this policy, even though I had serious doubts throughout these years. Today, I am running for the leadership of my party. I have repeatedly said that for conservative principles prevail, we must defend them openly, with passion and conviction. I obviously can not defend the supply management with passion and conviction, “he said.
“For me, economic freedom is not an empty slogan,” he also said.
To reporters, Mr. Bernier said that there should be a transition period of five to 10 years to enable farmers to adapt to the new context.
Inspired by a recent reform in Australia, he proposed a temporary levy on those products whose production is regulated to compensate farmers for the value of their quotas. Those quotas would be worth between 18 billion and 28 billion, according to different estimates.
“After a transition period, we would have a free, open and fair to all, with lower prices, innovation and more competition and more growth in the agricultural sector,” said Mr. Bernier.
The former minister said to be ready to face the critics of this proposal, including members of the UPA, who wish to maintain the supply management.
One of the co-chairs of the campaign, the Conservative MP Jacques Gourde, is itself an agricultural background. It has support Mr. Bernier despite this proposal and campaign against such a change during the next two years to convince the Conservative members to stay the course on this issue.
Mr. Bernier said that if the party members opt for the status quo, it will go along with their decision if elected party leader.