How dare he! Tory leadership candidate Bernier says supply management should end - InfoNews

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How dare he! Tory leadership candidate Bernier says supply management should end

Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier speaks during a new conference on supply management in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 31, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
May 31, 2016 - 2:13 PM

OTTAWA - Canada's supply management system for poultry and dairy is unjust, inefficient and should be gradually abolished, Tory leadership hopeful Maxime Bernier said Tuesday.

The system should be phased out during a period of five to 10 years, said the Conservative MP, who is one of the early entrants in the race to replace Stephen Harper.

"Supply management maintains prices that are artificially high ... by the control of production, the banning of imports and price-fixing by bureaucrats," he said.

Bernier once supported supply management, but that was only out of loyalty to the Harper government, he explained, adding he is now free to speak his mind.

Canada's agricultural firms should be able to innovate and compete around the world without having their potential success impeded by the "powerful lobby" representing dairy and poultry farmers, he said.

"During free-trade agreements Canada has always focused on protecting the sectors covered by supply management as opposed to opening foreign markets for other agricultural products," Bernier told reporters.

"We are limiting the development of thousands of agricultural companies across the country and curtailing the creation of thousands of jobs to satisfy a small — but powerful — lobby."

Canada's supply management laws protect eggs, dairy and poultry from foreign competition and guarantee certain farmers a price and demand for their products.

A recent study by Quebec dairy co-operative Agropur said ending the supply management system would threaten up to 6,000 farms in the country and about 24,000 jobs.

Quebec, which is home to about 5,900 of the country's 12,000 dairy farms, would be one of the provinces hardest hit by the proposed changes.

Bernier, who is from Quebec, was quickly criticized by others in the Quebec caucus of the Conservative party.

"I will never support a candidate who is against supply management," Luc Berthold wrote on Twitter. "Period."

Bernier said his party needs to hold a "real debate" on the issue, rather than "maintaining the taboo."

"There is always a risk, once you take firm, principled positions, that there can be certain (problems) in the short term," he said. "But in the long term it will be good for the Canadian economy as a whole."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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