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QUESTION PERIOD — International Trade

International Market Access

March 2, 2022

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

I knew we could agree on an issue if you only tried.

Again, the next question was answered with the standing ovation that Senator Griffin got earlier today. Therefore, let me delve into another issue that’s also near and dear to our colleague’s heart.

Leader, the issue concerns something that both Senator Griffin and I have previously raised, which is the difficult circumstances being faced by Prince Edward Island’s potato farmers through no fault of their own. I want to assure Senator Griffin that these farmers will not be forgotten as she takes her retirement from the Senate shortly. I’m sure you want to assure her of this as well.

By last Friday, leader, to qualify for a federal and provincial compensation program, Prince Edward Island potato farmers destroyed about 136 million kilograms of their own potatoes. It is devastating for any farmer to be forced to destroy a crop they worked so hard to produce.

Leader, shipments of P.E.I. potatoes to Puerto Rico resumed on February 9. When will shipments to the U.S. mainland resume? How much longer will the Trudeau government’s export ban be in place?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for the question. It’s an important one. It remains a priority for the Government of Canada to restore access to the continental United States. The resumption of exports to Puerto Rico is clearly a good first step, modest though it may appear. I’m advised that the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working expeditiously on their analysis for the continental U.S. The government will continue to take an approach with its partners, provinces and stakeholders to deal with the U.S. in terms of the U.S.’s stated science concerns. This is the best chance for a quick and complete reopening of the potato market in the U.S., which is what we all firmly hope will happen soon.

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