Federal Tories pledge to postpone new livestock transport rules

Party releases platform ahead of Oct. 21 election

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer campaigns in Langley, B.C. on Oct. 11, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Osorio)

A federal Conservative government would postpone major amendments to animal health regulations dealing with livestock transport, otherwise due to come into effect in February next year.

Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives on Friday released a platform promising a number of regulatory changes of interest to grain and livestock producers ahead of the federal election on Oct. 21.

The incumbent Liberal government in February this year announced its amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations on animal transportation. The changes were billed as “improv(ing) the well-being of animals during the entire transportation process, keeping in mind Canada’s geographic size and the time required to travel between locations.”

The Liberals said in February their new “science-based” rules will focus on tightening animals’ intervals without feed, water or rest, whereas current transport rules dating back to 1977 “focus mainly on (animals’) time in confinement.”

However, the Tories said in Friday’s platform, a Conservative government “will postpone their coming into force until we have conducted a review,” so as “to ensure (the new rules) are based on complete evidence.”

While it’s the federal government’s regulatory role to ensure the welfare of animals during transport, the Tories said, “unfortunately, Justin Trudeau is pushing forward with updates to these regulations that are not based on the latest facts.

“Farmers care deeply about the wellbeing of their animals and they want to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety.”

Livestock truckers and other industry groups have also recently been calling on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for clarification on several matters in the new regulations, ahead of their February implementation date.

Refunds

The Tories’ platform also calls for the federal Canada Grain Act and the Canadian Grain Commission to “align with modern agricultural practices, global market requirements, and the needs of our farmers.”

Regulation of agriculture in Canada “has not always kept up with the market,” the party said, pledging to “bring the CGA and CGC in line with today’s standards in consultation with farmers.”

As part of that modernization process for the CGA and CGC, the Tories said “we will return the $130 million in overcharged user fees amassed by the CGC to farmers.”

The party said it will also see to it that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Health Canada branch responsible for pesticide regulation, “effectively balances protecting health and the environment with Canada’s economic interests.”

To that end, the party said, “we will add competitiveness as a key component of (PMRA’s) mandate, require that it work more transparently with those it regulates, encourage regulatory innovation and harmonization with international trading partners, and ensure that it has sufficient resources to deliver on its mandate.”

A Conservative government would also set up “global monitoring” of other countries’ non-tariff barriers against Canadian goods, and “aggressively” challenge such barriers at the World Trade Organization.

“Decades ago, the primary barriers to trade were tariffs,” the Tories said. “As these have come down, it is now regulatory and non-tariff barriers that are the biggest problems for Canadian exporters, particularly in the agricultural sector.”

In any future trade deals, the party said, a Conservative government will “insist on chapters dealing with non-tariff trade barriers,” so as to “address these issues and to find new ways for resolving these types of regulatory disputes.”

Among other pledges for farmers and rural residents, the Tories on Friday promised:

  • to “work with provinces and farmers to make Agri-Stability more simple, predictable, bankable, and timely;”
  • to “examine the rule that makes it easier to transfer a farm to a stranger rather than a family member;”
  • to not put supply management on the table in any future international trade negotiations, and to deliver “promised compensation” to affected supply-managed sectors in the wake of market access granted under trade pacts such as CETA, CPTPP and CUSMA;
  • to set aside a portion of all broadband spectrum auctions for rural Canada;
  • to add aggravating factors to sentences for crimes that target rural residents, “because of their remoteness from police stations;”
  • to set aside a specific infrastructure fund for rural and remote communities;
  • to use a “mitigation and adaptation lens” when budgeting for infrastructure investments, including designing infrastructure to be resilient to extreme weather events or to protect against known hazards;”
  • and to “pursue natural infrastructure projects that leverage the resilience of our natural landscapes” such as wetlands.

Glacier FarmMedia Network

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