Second Reading of Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Grizzly bear, Yukon Territory

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I rise to speak as critic to private member’s Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This bill proposes to remove farmers’ obligation to pay a price for the greenhouse gas emissions that they generate when they use propane and natural gas to heat farm buildings and to dry grains.

I’d like to begin by expressing my admiration and support for Canadian farmers. I know how essential agriculture is to safeguarding our ability to feed Canadians, as well as people around the world. That’s why Canada has a multitude of programs designed to support and assist all agricultural sectors.

To highlight just a few, we have supply management systems for milk, eggs, chicken and maple products. We have crop insurance programs. We offer payment guarantees for export prices. We also have financing programs for farms and farm equipment, as well as legislation to prevent the seizure of farm assets.

Recently, on March 9, 2022, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced the launch of the Supply Management Processing Investment Fund to increase the competitiveness of those sectors. This fund is worth $292.5 million, bringing the total amount committed to compensate and support players in various agricultural sectors to over $3 billion, for them to modernize their operations and make them more competitive following the signing of international trade agreements. Canada is investing heavily to ensure that our farmers remain competitive.

As the grandson of a farmer, I recognize the appeal of Bill C-234, which seemingly aims to leave more money in the pockets of certain farmers. However, as a grandfather, I’m also aware that we are in the midst of a global climate crisis. We must act decisively to stop climate change, which threatens both farms and biodiversity, as well as the health and well-being of so many people, not just in Canada, but around the world.

My speech will proceed in four parts: The first is the role of a critic of a bill. The second is the climate crisis and the need for a significant price on carbon emissions. The third is the origin of Bill C-234 and its evolving context. The final part is the reason this bill is not the right answer to the collective challenges we face to ensuring a better future for all, including Canadian farmers.

In the appendix on terminology of the Senate Rules, the critic of a bill is described as follows:

The lead Senator responding to the sponsor of the bill. The critic is designated by the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Government (if the sponsor is not a government member) or the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition (if the sponsor is a government member). While the critic is often the second Senator to speak to a bill this is not always the case.

In other words, the critic is the counterpart to the bill’s sponsor. For this reason, the Rules grant the critic up to 45 minutes at second reading and third reading, whereas other senators, except leaders, have only up to 15 minutes of speaking time.

It follows that the roles of a bill’s sponsor and critic are distinct. The sponsor acts as a bill’s champion. The critic’s responsibility is to provide a critical evaluation of a bill, responding to the sponsor. A critic is not a sponsor-in-waiting, and friendly critics should be avoided as far as possible.

The logic behind the role of critic is to inform debate at an early stage — after the sponsor. Independent senators should have the opportunity to consider the arguments of both the sponsor and the critic before entering into debate.

The critic should not be invested with an implied procedural veto on a private bill’s advancement. The recent case of Bill S-241 — where the critic agreed to speak only 14 months after the sponsor — is unacceptable. Private bills deserve to be voted on at second reading within a reasonable time and, if adopted, to proceed to committee for a meaningful review.

Finally, as suggested by Senator Downe in connection with Bill C-13, the roles of sponsor and critic should be considered inconsistent with chairing committee proceedings on the bill in question. During the Forty-second Parliament, Senator Runciman, the former chair of the Legal Committee, and Senator Andreychuk, the former chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, upheld this principle by vacating the chair when their bills came to their committees.

In fact, members of a committee should always be able to conduct the appropriate level of analysis, including canvassing concerns and opposing arguments. When we fail to do so, the risk of a serious error is high, particularly for private bills where, most of the time, we do not benefit from the perspective and expertise of the relevant departments. The recent example of a Senate bill regarding employment benefits in Prince Edward Island should be a reminder to our committees of the need to take the time to carry out an appropriate level of analysis of all private bills.

On this, I thank Senator Ringuette who raised the flag just in time.

To conclude on this point, I invite the Rules Committee to consider rules regarding sponsors and critics.

I will now turn to my second point: the climate crisis.

Most of us in this chamber agree that greenhouse gas emissions are an existential threat to the environment, biodiversity and human life in Canada and around the world. Most of us also agree that without decisive action, the impacts of climate change will only exacerbate — think of rising sea levels; ocean acidification; forest fires; heat waves; storms; floods and droughts; loss of property and good soil; and the forced displacement of millions of vulnerable people.

In Canada, the climate is warming at more than twice the global rate. Furthermore, as pointed out during a recent conference organized by our colleague Senator Anderson, the situation is worse in our Arctic, which is warming at about three to four times the global rate.

In 2021, the national average temperature was 2.1 degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 reference value. That year, the heat dome that affected British Columbia for over two weeks was responsible for 1,000 new local daily temperature records, and contributed to an early and above-average wildfire season and destruction. This extreme heat also caused over 600 deaths.

Current wildfires all across Canada are a reminder that the situation is only going to become worse. To borrow the words of Professor Mike Flannigan from the University of Alberta, these wildfires are “climate change in action.”

This is costly to Canadians. An article published on May 21 in The Globe and Mail reported that the 2016 Alberta wildfires cost nearly $9 billion.

Colleagues, nowhere are the severe consequences of climate change more tangible than in the agricultural sector. Indeed, a 2021 study led by Cornell University shows that global warming productivity is 21% lower than it could have been without climate change.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada observes that:

Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns will increase reliance on irrigation and water-resource management, notably across the Prairies and the interior of British Columbia where moisture deficits are greatest, but also in regions where there has not traditionally been a need to irrigate.

The department adds that:

In many parts of the country, wetter than normal springs will present challenges such as the need to delay seeding. Flooding and other extreme events, including wildfires, may result in loss or relocation of livestock and damage to crops; and increased frequency and intensity of storms could result in power outages, affecting livestock heating and cooling systems as well as automated feeding and milking systems.

In 2018, damage to Canadian farms resulting from severe weather reached $2 billion, the fourth-highest cost on record. In 2019, Alberta crop farmers spoke of the “harvest from hell.” The publication The Western Producer reported that the estimated total value of unharvested crops was $778 million — three quarters of a billion dollars. Recent wetter-than-usual seasons have translated into the need for more grain drying in many provinces. In 2021, as sponsor of Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, Senator Galvez said:

. . . we must act now. For every year that we fail to take action, the cost of reaching the objective of 1.5 degrees Celsius goes up by $5 trillion. . . . Canada is the tenth-highest contributor to climate change and our per capita emissions are among the highest in the world.

Against this backdrop and Canada’s undertaking in the Paris Agreement to reduce its carbon emissions, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was introduced in Parliament through a Budget Implementation Act on March 27, 2018. It came into force on June 21, 2018.

The act establishes the framework for the federal carbon pollution pricing system. The federal approach enables provinces and territories to implement their own carbon pollution pricing systems aligned with the common minimum national stringency standards that all carbon pricing systems must meet. The federal carbon pollution pricing system applies in those provinces or territories that request it or where there isn’t a system in place that meets the minimum national stringency requirements. That is why it is called a backstop system.

It is important to emphasize that, under the act, all proceeds from the federal carbon pricing system are returned to the province or territory of origin.

Putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is a logical way to induce behavioural changes that will lead to widespread reductions in emissions. This price seeks to incentivize individuals and businesses to make more environmentally sustainable purchasing and consumption choices, redirect their financial investments and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by substituting carbon-intensive goods for low greenhouse gas alternatives.

Generally, there are two main approaches to greenhouse gas pricing. One approach is to directly set a fixed price on emissions — for example, through a fuel charge or levy. The other approach is to set a cap on emissions but not fix the price, for example, through a cap-and-trade system. This approach caps overall emissions and enables businesses and industries to trade emission permits so that emissions reductions occur where they cost the least. There are also hybrid approaches, such as the federal carbon pricing system for heavy industry.

All of these approaches put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. Provinces and territories can choose the type of system that makes sense for their circumstances. Regardless of the approach, putting a price on carbon pollution is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions as it doesn’t prescribe how, but lets businesses and consumers decide how to do so in ways that work best for them. The minimum national stringency requirements that all systems must meet take into account these different approaches.

For direct pricing systems, including the federal fuel charge, the minimum carbon price was set at $20 per tonne in 2019. It gradually increased by $10 per year until 2022, where it reached $50 per tonne. Today, it sits at $65 per tonne and will increase yearly by $15 to reach $170 per tonne in 2030. This provides a strong incentive to reduce emissions and invest in clean technologies.

Incidentally, the act provides some exemptions to farmers for gasoline and fuel used in farm operations. Greenhouse operators also receive 80% relief from the fuel charge on natural gas and propane.

We know that three parties in the House of Commons — the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc — still agree with the minimum national stringency requirements set forth in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Their policy choice follows the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was agreed to by virtually every nation in the world in the 1990s. On the website of its secretariat, you can read that putting a price on carbon can:

Spur investment and innovation in clean technology by increasing the relative cost of using carbon-intensive technology. Businesses and individuals seeking cost-effective ways to lower their emissions will encourage the development of clean technology and channel financing towards green investments.

But we also know that Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario strongly opposed a federal charge on greenhouse gas emissions. Not only have they so far refused to put in place provincial regimes adapted to their reality, but they also challenged the constitutionality of the federal scheme.

On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the levies imposed by the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act are “constitutionally valid regulatory charges” and not, strictly speaking, a tax. This decisive judgment was not enough to convince the challenging provinces to finally put in place a complete provincial scheme to prevent the application of the federal legislation. To the contrary, they continue to call for an end to what they call the “carbon tax.”

This position has been embraced by the Conservative Party of Canada. In a recent social media post, it promised to “abolish all of the costly coalition’s carbon taxes to lower the price of gas, heat, and groceries, and make life less expensive for all Canadians.” Last week, the Leader of the Conservative Party reiterated at length his desire to cancel the carbon tax during debate on Bill C-47, the budget implementation act.

I now turn to my third point, the background to Bill C-234. After the coming into force of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, some farmer groups from the Prairies and Ontario attempted to convince the government to exempt propane and natural gas from the fuel charge through regulation. The act entitles the government to enlarge the exemptions. Their efforts failed.

In reaction, a powerful lobby called Agriculture Carbon Alliance was launched in 2020 by a gathering of various organizations seeking increased exemptions. The Agriculture Carbon Alliance claims to represent 190,000 Canadian farm businesses, including in Quebec and B.C., two provinces where the federal act does not apply. The Carbon Alliance is pushing for amendments to the federal act to create more exemptions from the federal charge on carbon, but not pushing for provincial schemes to replace it.

The first attempt to expand exemptions came on February 18, 2020, when two private bills were introduced: one in the Senate by Senator Griffin, and the other in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Philip Lawrence.

Senate Bill S-215 sought to expand not only the definition of “qualifying farming fuel” to include “marketable natural gas” and “propane,” but also the definition of “eligible farming machinery” to include “property used for the purpose of providing heating or cooling to a building or similar structure.”

In their speeches at second reading, Senators Griffin and Black said that carbon pricing impacted the competitiveness of farmers and increased the price of food consumed by Canadians. Senator Griffin stated:

. . . a dollar figure of between $13,000 and $17,000 in direct and indirect carbon taxes for a 5,000-acre farm in 2022.

That’s what she was predicting. Despite my requests, the Carbon Alliance did not provide anything to justify these numbers. Let me add that an average farm in Canada has 809 acres and not 5,000 acres.

In the other place, MP Lawrence introduced Bill C-206, which sought to expand the definition of “qualifying farming fuel” to include “marketable natural gas” and “propane.” But, contrary to Senator Griffin’s bill, it did not touch upon the definition of “eligible farming machinery.” It was more restricted.

Both bills died on the Order Paper with the prorogation of the first session of the Forty-third Parliament on August 18, 2020.

The second attempt was in the following session. Under the House rules, Bill C-206 was reinstated on September 23, 2020. Subsequently, it completed all stages in the House and reached first reading in the Senate, but did not progress further with the dissolution of Parliament on August 15, 2021.

In the meantime, it is important to mention that in Budget 2021, presented on April 19, 2021, the government acknowledged that “many farmers use natural gas and propane in their operations” and announced its intention to “return a portion of the proceeds from the price on pollution directly to farmers in backstop jurisdictions.”

In the current Parliament, on December 15, 2021, the government introduced Bill C-8, the Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021, which was assented to on June 9, 2022. This bill provides that fuel charge proceeds paid by farmers are to be returned to farming businesses in backstop jurisdictions via a refundable tax credit. Bill C-8 makes good on the earlier promise found in the 2021 budget.

As an official from the Department of Finance explained before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and as was reiterated at Bill C-234’s third reading in the House:

Through the refundable tax credit, the total amount to be returned is generally equal to the estimated fuel charge proceeds from farm use of propane and natural gas in heating and drying activities in backstop provinces. This ensures that all the proceeds collected from this farming activity are returned to farmers. It is estimated that farmers will receive $100 million in the first year, with this amount expected to increase as the price on carbon pollution rises.

The refundable tax credit is designed to allocate total fuel charge proceeds according to farm size, as measured using total farm expenditures. In this manner, the credit aims to help farmers transition to lower-carbon ways of farming by providing support to farmers, while also maintaining the price signal to reduce emissions.

To summarize, Bill C-8, with its tax credit mechanism, returns fuel charge proceeds to farmers in a manner that does not undo the purpose and benefit of such a charge in the first place, which is to induce behavioural changes that will lead to widespread reductions in emissions. Simply put, Bill C-8 maintains what is known as the “price signal.”

Despite this adjustment to the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, the third and current attempt to expand exemptions comes in the form of Bill C-234, introduced by Conservative MP Ben Lobb on February 7, 2022.

Commenting on this introduction, he stated in an interview with local or regional media, owned by Postmedia:

. . . we’d love to have a bill to get rid of carbon tax for everybody at this time that would deal with your home heating bills and a number of different things. . . . But we wouldn’t have the support of the house.

However, on the topic of further exemptions for farmers, he was of the view that his party would have the support of the House. One may wonder if MP Lobb is a fan of Agamemnon, the Greek king who offered the Trojans the legendary horse.

The bill in its original version had no sunset clause, making the new exemptions permanent. To avoid a defeat in committee, the Conservatives offered a 10-year sunset provision with the option for the government of the day to propose postponing the expiry of the exemptions for a specified period of time by a motion in both houses. Put in a difficult position with farmers, while recognizing the pitfalls of an indefinite exemption for farmers, the NDP countered with an eight-year period, which is what we now see in Bill C-234. At third reading in the House of Commons, the government and all Liberal MPs but three, voted “no” to Bill C-234 as amended and now before us. This is what we call “multi-party support.” It’s not unanimity — far from that.

I now turn to my fourth and last point: the two main arguments raised in support of Bill C-234 — and, incidentally, its predecessors — despite Bill C-8, and why these arguments falter under careful reflection.

First is the argument that there is an urgent need to grant a financial break to farmers so they can remain competitive and feed Canadians and the rest of the world. This assertion needs nuance. As we all know, all farmers do not operate under the same conditions. In fact, a large proportion of Canadian farmers operate in supply management systems, which largely exclude competition and where the operating costs are eventually reflected in the prices paid by consumers. This is the case for milk, eggs, chicken and maple syrup.

However, grain, oilseeds and cattle and hog producers operate in systems where the price they receive is determined by the Chicago Board of Trade or elsewhere, irrespective of their production costs. Numerous representatives of these producers told me that they are not price fixers but, rather, price takers. In other words, the price for their grain or livestock is outside of their control. Therefore, while the fuel charge might represent an additional cost for grain and livestock producers, this does not automatically result in a higher cost to consumers. The price of commodities such as natural gas and propane varies according to time. Actually, the price of natural gas is cheaper than it was three years ago, despite the additional tax on carbon. The price is not going up at the end; the price is lower than it was.

But it remains true that these farmers are competing with foreign markets where carbon pricing may not exist for the time being. However, it is also true that Canadian farmers have access to various government programs to assist the financing of their exports and help them to remain competitive.

The second assertion is that farmers lack viable means to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, thus making the fuel charge punitive in nature — you may have read that in the literature you received from the Carbon Alliance. This argument also needs nuance.

Consider, for instance, the heating and cooling of buildings used for animal breeding, such as stables, hog farms, et cetera. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, farmers can implement more efficient heating systems and use a heating pump, better ventilation systems and recirculation of air. They can also improve their insulation and adopt other widely available techniques already on the market.

The vice-president of the National Farmers Union, an engineer and a lawyer told me, as he told the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, that there are proven ways to improve efficiency in buildings with energy-efficient ventilation fans and LED lighting, as well as heat recovery technology and in-floor heating.

I have learned that in-floor heating is much more effective than heating coming from the ceiling.

Along similar lines, a recent document from the government of the State of Victoria in Australia titled “Energy use on farms,” which was last updated April 26, 2023, outlines several options for efficiency gains, such as insulating buildings, maximizing the use of natural light and ventilation in farm buildings and using light-coloured, heat-reflective paint on roofs and walls.

In addition, reliance on propane and natural gas may be reduced by using a geothermal pump. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states:

. . . geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption — and corresponding emissions — up to 44% compared with air-source heat pumps and up to 72% compared with electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment.

In my consultation with the National Farmers Union, I was told the story of a farmer who opted for a natural gas boiler instead of a geothermal heat pump for a new building on his farm because the purchase price of the gas boiler was lower. But in the long run, the heat pump would have been a better option for the environment and for his financial results considering the escalating charge on natural gas. But he would prefer to get an exemption. In fact, incentives like the charge on carbon emissions are crucial to prevent such a choice.

There has also been much discussion about grain drying, an activity that, no doubt, is essential, especially when you have a wet season. However, it would be inaccurate to suggest that there is currently no viable way for farmers to reduce energy consumption in their grain drying activities.

For example, in March 2022, Premier Ford’s government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs published a technical fact sheet for commercial crop producers outlining the numerous ways in which they can reduce energy use in grain dryers. It notes that a grain dryer wastes as much as 40% of the energy it uses and that the type of grain dryer can make a 30% difference in energy use.

The fact sheet goes on to state that dryeration or in-bin cooling improves dryer energy use by up to 30% and that a heat recovery system, which can be added to most existing dryers, reduces fuel consumption by 20% to 40% without affecting dryer throughput. Finally, it says that many dryers can also be purchased with suction cooling, yielding a result that is similar to heat recirculation and saving 15% to 20% in fuel compared to a standard dryer.

Solutions do exist on the market, and they are coming from the government of Mr. Ford.

Moreover, colleagues, new and accessible technologies are coming to the market. Just a few weeks ago, on March 29, Minister Bibeau announced federal support for 45 new projects related to adopting more efficient grain drying technology by farmers across Canada. In fact, the current government’s approach to combatting climate change is not merely carbon pricing but, instead, a multi-faceted framework that includes substantial government investment in research, development and adoption of clean technology for the agriculture sector.

For example:

As part of the Strengthened Climate Plan and the Emissions Reduction Plan, the Government of Canada has committed over $1.5 billion to accelerate the agricultural sector’s progress on reducing emissions and to remain a global leader in sustainable agriculture.

This is including $495.7 million for the Agricultural Clean Technology Program.

This program has now supported 99 grain dryer projects across the country, “already helping hundreds of farmers to adopt clean technologies that will power their farms with cleaner energy.”

One example is a 26,000-acre family operated producer of canola, wheat and oats in Saskatchewan, which:

. . . is receiving up to $2 million to purchase and install a new grain dryer and biomass boiler that is powered by locally sourced wood waste.

That will completely negate the use of propane in the drying process on this farm.

Another example is a Manitoba company introducing a biomass grain drying system.

To sum up, in grain drying, the arrival of clean technologies is well under way. But if Bill C-234, with its eight-year exemption, becomes law, the likely downside is that it eliminates an incentive to promptly adopt clean technologies that will continue to emerge during that period. Furthermore, at the end of the proposed eight-year period, in 2031, the charge will have reached $170 per tonne of carbon emissions, and not $65, as it is currently. You could then expect one thing: more lobbying to extend the exemption.

With the introduction of tax credit under Bill C-8, the Agriculture Carbon Alliance has put forward a new argument. It alleges that the tax credit does not reallocate fuel charge proceeds in the most equitable way for some groups of farmers, especially those using propane, for whom the credit may represent only a small portion of the carbon price paid.

Despite my requests, they were unable to provide me with any evidence of their claims so far. But even assuming this is the case, the logical answer is, as proposed by the National Farmers Union, an adjustment to the rebate mechanism, not an exemption from the carbon price altogether.

I was told about some provinces’ unwillingness to ensure that farms can connect to the grid and receive sufficient electric power at a reasonable price. In my opinion, this does not justify asking the federal government to exempt farmers from the carbon price in respect of their use of propane and natural gas. Instead, farmers should use their powerful lobbies to seek the provision of proper services by provincial utilities.

Finally, if Bill C-234 were to be adopted, many negative impacts would result. An area of particular concern is the risk of double compensation that might arise. As an official from the Department of Finance said before the House standing committee:

If fuel charge relief for farmers were extended through Bill C-234, farmers in backstop jurisdictions would receive double the compensation by benefiting from the refundable tax credit included in Bill C-8, while also being almost fully relieved from the fuel charge. Such double compensation would come at the expense of households or other sectors in those provinces.

An additional concern is the potential impact on the way that grain drying is done. In his recent speech, Senator Black acknowledged that Bill C-234 will only apply to grain producers who conduct their own grain drying and not to those who use the services of a third-party grain dryer. From the meetings I had with various stakeholders, it appears that in Ontario, about 50% of grains are dried by third-party enterprises. Thus, the adoption of this bill will provide a strong incentive to farmers to buy their own grain dryers, even if they need to use propane or natural gas. This will be cheaper than to use the third party. This will generate more greenhouse emissions and constitute an additional subsidy to the oil and gas companies.

Another important drawback is the various possible ripple effects of adopting this bill. As the organization Environmental Defence observes:

Exempting . . . high emission activities from carbon pricing for farmers will only further encourage other sectors to demand similar treatment. This is already a problem as many industries, especially the oil and gas sector, have successfully lobbied for, and achieved, favourable treatment, which allows them to pay a much lower carbon price than others, regardless of their lack of actual degree of being energy intensive and trade exposed.

In his recent speech, Senator Black showed an openness to further amendments. He said:

If it is necessary, amendments can be made at a later time to make it better, as has been noted. Maybe they will even consider extending this provision to other sectors within agriculture, but that’s a discussion for another time.

With the passage of Bill C-234, Environment and Climate Change Canada estimates that the decrease in coverage where the federal fuel charge applies would be approximately 2.4 megatonnes in 2023. That is 2.4 million tonnes. This is a significant amount, as Canada’s emissions in 2021 were 670 megatonnes. Any subsequent amendment will, of course, increase these numbers.

Finally, on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s website, the government has publicly committed to conduct an interim review of carbon pricing by 2026 to confirm:

. . . that benchmark criteria are sufficient to continue ensuring that pricing stringency is aligned across all carbon pollution pricing systems in Canada and that carbon pricing systems continue to meet the benchmark criteria from 2027 to 2030.

Why, then, the need to have an exemption until 2031 if a review is possible in 2026?

Colleagues, I invite you to consider all these points and concerns before making up your mind on Bill C-234.

Should you conclude that it deserves second reading, it should be subject to a thorough review by two committees — the Senate’s National Finance Committee and Agriculture and Forestry Committee. Their hearings should include comprehensive evidence from not only representatives of agriculture organizations but also from environmental organizations, economists and officials from the Department of Finance and Environment and Climate Change Canada. This is our responsibility of sober second thought in the context of a climate crisis.

On a concluding note, I wish to thank all the stakeholder groups who reached out to me or to whom I reached out. Since the sponsor’s speech on May 9, I had the opportunity to meet with about 30 representatives from over a dozen groups both supportive of and opposed to Bill C-234.

One day, a group of farmers came into my office unannounced. Apparently, they found their way into East Block. I was pleased to meet with them. I met people from Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario who are cattle ranchers, grain producers, egg farmers, chicken farmers and all types of people. I learned a lot about agriculture, and I must say that I was a bit out of place since my days as a young man living in an agricultural setting. My father had hogs and chickens on many farms, sharing the profits of the meat price with the farmers. I unloaded, on chicken farms, hundreds and thousands of small chicks that were to become chickens. I was not aware of the latest changes, but I do know a bit about farming. Many of these meetings were followed by documents. Their thoughtful insights were most helpful in preparing my remarks before you today.

Thank you very much, colleagues. Thank you, meegwetch. Let us do the work that is asked of us.

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