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Interview with Sophie Chatel

Brett Thoms
Pontiac November , 2022

THE EQUITY interviewed Pontiac MP Sophie Chatel about her current priorities in the House of Commons.
During the interview we asked Chatel about the current state and future of the agricultural sector, the widely predicted looming recession and climate change.
Starting with agriculture, Chatel expressed that it was an important time to support the agricultural industry given the current state of the world, with wars and climatic shifts affecting the global food supply.
“Many parts of the world are politically unstable and some regions, like the southwest of the United States, are facing increases in temperature and periods of drought. More and more here in Canada too, but to a lesser extent,” said Chatel. “Agriculture has always been a major part of Canada’s economy. It was always a huge part of our GDP and our economy. But I think that now, it’s even more important given what’s going on in the world. And that’s why we need to strengthen our policy and really ensure the sustainability of Canadian farmers and also our agri-food sector.”
In terms of specific policies supporting the sector, Chatel said the federal government, in partnership with the provincial government, should increase direct payments for initiatives that “boost agricultural investment and innovation that enables the transfer of knowledge, technology and skills”.
Initiatives Chatel listed included the AgriStability program which seeks to develop ways agriculture can withstand extreme weather and the Resilient Agriculture Landscape Program, which committed $250 million of federal money to an initiative with the provinces that seeks “support ecological goods and services provided by the agricultural sectors.”
When asked about how she responds to some farmer’s concerns over carbon pricing (carbon tax) policies, Chatel said that Quebec has a carbon pricing policy independent of the measures passed by the federal government, and therefore federal laws passed on the issue do not negatively affect Quebec farmers.
In fact Chatel emphasized the federal law on carbon pricing is a benefit for Quebec’s farmers as “if other farmers across Canada increased their emissions instead of reducing them, then it seems like all the efforts of Quebec farmers will be cancelled by the increase of greenhouse gas emission by other farmers. So that’s why having a federal law ensures a level playing field for all farmers.”
She also said carbon pricing measures are vital in guaranteeing that Canadian farmers retain access to export markets like the European Union because of their recent adoption of carbon tariffs.
“Starting January 1, 2023 exports from countries that do not have the carbon pricing will be hit by a tariff before they get into the European market,” said Chatel as an example.
Chatel also stated that she was optimistic about the agriculture industry in Canada as its geographic location means that it will be able to pick up the slack of other countries whose agriculture industries will be disrupted by climate change.
“There’s some places in the world that will no longer be able to produce agricultural products. Canada because of our northern placement and with new technology and smart practices we can adapt to the climate and produce agricultural products that the world will need,” said Chatel.
Moving on to the economy, Chatel acknowledged that economists are predicting a “mild economic slowdown” but Canada is well placed to weather it and emerge stronger.
“We need to use this time to position ourselves to really capitalize on the opportunities that are before us, ‘’ said Chatel. “I think that we have the key resources to succeed in the global economy because we have critical minerals, we have agriculture and we have skilled and resilient workers.”
Chatel also said the geopolitical shifts mean that countries like the US and Europe will increase the investments in democracies, something she says that Canada is well positioned to benefit from.
Chatel mentioned that the government would prioritize investing in a net-zero economy and the skilled workers who can work the jobs created by that investment.

“If we have skilled workers, the investment will follow,’’ she said.
Chatel also discussed provisions outlined in the recent fall economic statement such as investing in manufacturing, the need to revamp Canada’s transportation infrastructure, increased GST rebates and a $500 rent support payment that low income individuals can apply for before the end of the year.
Transitioning the economy to net zero will also be a government priority going forward in an effort to ensure that businesses will be able to attract private capital from banks as they increasingly move towards models of “green finance,” according to Chatel.
“The new economy will be green and will be digital, so the strategy is to help our small and medium businesses to get more digital and get more green,” she said. “The Canadian economy is over 90 per cent based on small and medium businesses. So if we don’t want our small and medium businesses to be left behind because of a lack of private capital, then we really need to help them transition towards the carbon neutral economy now.”
As for specific green projects in the region Chatel voiced support for any initiative aimed at expanding solar generation or the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in the Pontiac.
“As the federal MP I will be the biggest cheerleader in the House of Commons for the federal government to support these projects.”
Chatel hosted a COP 27-like event for the Outauois in Gatineau last Tuesday, which THE EQUITY will cover in the next edition.

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