(Quebec) Rare fact: the Legault government took into consideration a bill from an opposition party, Québec solidaire, which would prohibit investment funds from purchasing agricultural land. The Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) welcomes this decision and hopes that it will be adopted.
“It’s not every day that we discuss the principle, that we call an opposition bill. It must be believed that this is a subject that interests the Minister of Agriculture. I welcome the interest and I hope that today we can collaborate so that we can go beyond the principle, that we can go to apply these tools in order to protect the agricultural territory,” affirmed the solidarity MP Alejandra Zaga Mendes, who presented the bill in the fall.
She praised the “listening” of Minister André Lamontagne. If the bill is adopted in principle, the next step will be clause-by-clause study. It is the parliamentary leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec, Simon Jolin-Barrette, who controls the legislative calendar and who will decide whether it will be studied or not.
The bill aims to prohibit banks, numbered companies or investment funds from getting their hands on agricultural land, explained Mr.me Zaga Mendes. “We are not going to take away land from Pangea, but we want to prevent new investors from buying agricultural land in the hope of making money,” she said. The question is not recent: a previous version of the bill was also presented by the party’s co-spokesperson, Émilise Lessard-Therrien, during the last legislature.
The UPA favorable
The general director of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA), Charles-Félix Ross, is delighted with this government decision. “We agree, we’ve been asking that for years,” he said in an interview. “As early as 2010, when the National Bank bought agricultural land in Lac-Saint-Jean, it was denounced,” he added.
“Other Canadian provinces have adopted this type of regulation. We have always opposed the financialization of agriculture and we want the land to belong to agricultural producers who exploit it. We agree with the bill,” he explained.
The bill also provides for the Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Land of Quebec to keep a register of agricultural land purchases, another initiative supported by the UPA.
The Liberal Party is also in favor of the principle of the bill, but it would like to carry out a “major consultation”. The Parti Québécois also agrees with the principle of the bill. “I appreciate the fact that we are calling a bill from an opposition party. It’s healthy,” said PQ member Pascal Bérubé in the House. “We could do it more often than that. We have great projects too,” he added.
He said he hoped that the CAQ government would be open to the bill even if the co-founder of the CAQ, Charles Sirois, “was with Pangea.”