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Farmers rally on The Hill has support from Prescott-Russell


Local farmers joined counterparts from Quebec and elsewhere, Thursday mor- ning, for a gathering at Parliament Hill. They met with their Québec counterparts for a protest rally against international trade policies that they claim threaten their livelihood. The June 2 gathering was the second far- mers’ protest rally onThe Hill, aimed at both creating greater public awareness of the problems farmers face against internatio- nal competition for the home market, and also pressing the new Liberal government to protect Canada’s dairy industry against dumping of Americanmilk products into the homemarketplace through trade agreement loopholes. “To Justin Trudeau: Put on your boxing gloves and defend us from the U.S.A. and support your Canadian farmers,” stated Chris Ryan, a St-Isidore dairy farmer, during inter- views with regional and national media. Ryan and other dairy farmers in both Eastern Ontario and Western Québec are pressing for tougher policies on cross-border trade, including a halt to imports of diafil- tered milk. Diafiltered milk is a powdered protein product used in making cheese and other dairy products. Imports from the U.S. are allowed in duty-free because they are not considered “real milk” under the terms of the current Canada-U.S. trade agreements. Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Liberal MP Francis Drouin spent more than an hour tal- king with local farmers at the rally before he had to go inside for Question Period. During a later phone interview, Drouin reaffirmed his election campaign promise of support for the supply management policy meant to protect Canadian agriculture against un-

MP Francis Drouin talks with some of the farmers, fromhis ownGlengarry-Prescott-Russell riding and other parts of EasternOntario, who drove their tractors to Ottawa, on June 2, to join their Québec counterparts in themost recent farmers’ rally on Parliament Hill, to lobby for protection of Canadian farm products against foreign imports. —submitted photo

fair competition. He noted that the farming sector needs to keep reminding the federal government of its concerns. “If we don’t keep the (lobby) pressure on,” said Drouin, “then it’s another lobby sector which will keep pressure on.” The MP also noted that while diafiltered milk imports are legal under the terms of the current trade agreements, the Cana- dian dairy industry could compete better against the U.S. imports if it received help with upgrading aging equipment. “That’s what I’mfighting for,” Drouin said, “to get the processing money.”

Mayors of rural municipalities in Pres- cott-Russell expressed support for farmers who took part in last week’s rally and also for all farmers in their areas, working in the produce or dairy sectors. “I support local farmers,” said Mayor François St-Amour of The NationMunicipality, adding that the U.S. dairy industry should respect its Canadian counterpart. “It’s tougher and tougher for farmers, for all their efforts, to get fair prices,” saidMayor Gary Barton of Champlain Township, which includes the Vankleek Hill area. “I don’t think we should be opening our borders to

let anyone ship milk here.” “The agricultural policies are ruining the rural areas,” saidMayor Robert Kirby of East Hawkesbury Township, himself a working farmer with a mixed dairy/cash crop ope- ration. “There are nomore incentives. We’re all losing money. If Canadians want their farmers to survive, they’d better look at the situation pretty quickly.” “I think the government should be very careful about what they do,” saidMayor Guy Desjardins of Clarence-Rockland. “We’ve got a top-quality product and I don’t see why the government is playing around with that.”

Cet investissement dans l’innovation et l’amélioration de l’accès aux soins de santé dont ils ont besoin, pour tous les habitants de l’Ontario, signifie : • 700 nouveaux docteurs et spécialistes • 35 hôpitaux actuellement en voie de rénovation, de modernisation ou d’expansion • 250 millions de dollars investis dans les soins à domicile et en milieu communautaire • 345 millions de dollars investis pour réduire les temps d’attente et améliorer l’accès aux soins

Cette année, le financement de notre système de santé va augmenter de plus d’un milliard de dollars.

Pour un système de soins de santé vigoureux aujourd’hui et demain.

Payé par le gouvernement de l’Ontario

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