[ SkipToMainMenu ]

March 1st, 2022 - Bill S-227, An Act to establish Food Day in Canada - Second Reading

Food Day in Canada Bill

Second Reading—Debate

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Black, seconded by the Honourable Senator Griffin, for the second reading of Bill S-227, An Act to establish Food Day in Canada.

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak at second reading on Bill S-227, an Act to establish Food Day in Canada. I thank Senator Black for bringing this initiative forward and for his continued promotion and leadership on rural and agricultural issues.

Supporting local food is crucial for all communities, big or small, across our country. As a senator from rural New Brunswick, I understand the importance of supporting local food products. It strengthens the local economy, strengthens the bond in the community between one another and, as we share local food, it is a very important element of our cultural identity.

Honourable senators, every session, we pass these kinds of bills often to commemorate or promote various causes. As we approach the two-year mark of the COVID pandemic and lockdowns in Canada, the timing is as good as it gets to showcase the importance of local food in our country. In times of need, it was the local food chain which made sure Canadians had options and could have confidence in putting food on their table.

Just last week, I was meeting with the Dairy Farmers of New Brunswick. Dairy farmers collectively donated more than $10 million in dairy products to food banks to support Canadians in need. By talking with their representatives, you easily see they have the well-being of their community at heart. So, for my speech at second reading, I want to share with you different benefits from supporting local food in Canada.

First, local farming projects tend to have an impact beyond economic benefit and providing food to a community. Please allow me to share with you a story from Port Elgin, New Brunswick, a story I am certain we would have heard if our dear now-retired colleague Carolyn Stewart Olsen was still a member of the Senate.

Students from Port Elgin Regional School are learning how to tackle food security in a unique way. They’re learning about food from the seed to the table, using a new specialized winter greenhouse to grow their own vegetables. Through the Brewer Foundation in Fredericton, the hope is for the greenhouse to provide a long-term solution for people in their community dealing with food security. The project is designed to also help students think for themselves while learning valuable skills.

What better way for a local project to teach young kids about the importance of food security, growing healthy food and instilling a sense of community at a young age. It is just another reason why supporting local food is important. They make a direct contribution to our community’s well-being because, as members of our community, they care about it.

Actually, in my provincial riding of Kent North, our MLA, Kevin Arseneau, is a farmer. While providing food for the community, he also serves as the community’s voice on provincial issues. He brings the same passion, work ethic and commitment to his role as MLA.

Another reason to celebrate local food, honourable colleagues, is the cultural impact it has on our identity. There is a passage from Bill S-227 that I really liked, located in the preamble:

And whereas the people of Canada will benefit from a food day in Canada to celebrate local food as one of the most elemental characteristics of all of the cultures that populate this nation . . . .

Wherever you go across the country, it is at the centre of it. From Newfoundland’s fishing communities and tradition of kissing a trout when being ’’screeched in,” as they say, to the potato in P.E.I., maple syrup in Quebec and beef in Alberta, it is a central figure to our identity.

In a country as diverse as ours, food is central in making bonds with new community members. For example, by visiting the local farmers’ market in Moncton, New Brunswick, you will see a variety of food from traditional Acadian cuisines to Korean cuisines to German cuisines, et cetera. These local farmers’ markets are a unique way for new immigrants to integrate into the community and become valued members and contributors.

The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Poirier, I have to interrupt you.

(At 9 p.m., pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on November 25, 2021, the Senate adjourned until 2 p.m., tomorrow.)

Back to: In the Chamber