World Youth Day Toronto

Held in 2002

“WYD [World Youth Day] is bigger, better and far cheaper than the Olympics. WYD 2002 was Toronto’s finest hour.” — Father Raymond J. De Souza, July 26, 2012, National Post

World Youth Day 2002 (WYD2002) was a global Catholic and interfaith youth festival held July 23-July 28, 2002, in Toronto. World Youth Day is a celebration of faith begun by Pope John Paul II held on an international level every two to three years, and WYD2002 was the 10th such event. Although World Youth Day is designed for Catholics, it attracts and speaks to sizable numbers of youths from other faiths and denominations and was presented as a multi-faith celebration of young people from all over the world.

World Youth Day 2002 had the support of some 25,000 volunteers. Upwards of 100,000 pilgrims themselves spent three hours each on one of 750 service projects in the Toronto area.

Approximately 850,000 youths from all over the world attended the events in Toronto that July.

Dennis Mills was a central coordinator and federal liaison for World Youth Day 2002.

Among the many meetings with officials from various federal departments and agencies, provincial ministries, and City departments and commissions, the link below shows an example of how the Canada’s national public broadcaster was engaged in World Youth Day 2002. There were dozens of such meetings with various officials and agencies.

June 2001 Meeting of the Heritage Committee of the House of Commons unanimously agreeing to support World Youth Day 2002 and urge the CBC to consider coverage of the event as a priority project.

You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world” was the theme of Toronto’s World Youth Day 2002.

Estimated 800,000 people at Sunday Mass with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, at Parc Downsview Park.

Water Manifesto

Launched in 2001

This is where we share our ideas, help develop new ones, and draft an action plan and set of guiding principles–for water and for meaningful, participatory and sustainable life for all peoples.

The work on a water manifesto culminated in the Summit on Water, held on Wahta Mohawk Territory, Bala, Ontario. The event brought together academics, indigenous representatives, Members of Parliament, constitutional experts and water technologists.  The Summit on Water was filmed in its entirety and broadcast multiple times on CPAC (Canadian Public Affairs Channel).

A Water Manifesto

This is where, together, all of us work towards producing A Water Manifesto for the World.

Sounds like a lofty goal?  Not really.  Much work has already been done by various international groups towards developing something that would protect our fresh water systems throughout the planet, and, in so doing, help protect us–the people who rely upon this vital resource.

Here we bring together the people, the ideas and the vision already developed.  But here, you help coordinate the pieces and help develop the plan.  This section of our website is like a tributary within your web portal to the key public policy issues of today and tomorrow.

What is water?

Fresh water is something we need for food and human sustenance.

Water is something we use for washing and bathing.  Water is a source of recreation.

Water is key to religious and spiritual ceremonies.  Water is a commodity.  Water is the most abundant substance on Earth and even in our bodies.  Fresh water is freedom.

All humanity has a duty to integrate environmental conservation with development activity at all stages and all levels so as to achieve sustainable development.

We must also be vigilant towards keeping human resource use and related activity within the limits of the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.

Governments, businesses and other organizations should cooperate in promoting the development and adoption of environmentally sound technologies for the clean-up, restoration, management, maintenance and protection of our fresh and natural water resources.

With these thoughts in mind, we are holding a series of Summit Meetings on the Preservation of Fresh Water.  The first hosting site was the Wahta Community Centre at Bala Ontario, for an event which took place July 25-26. 

Summit on Water

July 25, 2001

Wahta Mohawk Territory, Bala, Ontario


Welcome Message from Chief Blaine Commandant, Wahta Mohawk First Nation

8:45 Opening Prayer from Wahta Mohawk Elder, Grace Franks

9:00 Welcome & Introductions:

Dennis Mills, Member of Parliament (Toronto-Danforth)

Andy Mitchell, Member of Parliament (Parry Sound Muskoka)

John Herron, Member of Parliament (Fundy Royal) Progressive Conservative

Party Environment Critic

9:30 The Importance of Water to First Nations and Women’s Roles:

Judy Da Silva, Grassy Narrows First Nation

10:00 Recommendations on First Nations Water Security

First Nations and Water Quality Standards:

Ovide Mercredi, Political Adviser, Assembly of First Nations

  • Maintaining Water Quality on Reserves:

  • Chief Neeapatung, Yellowquill First Nation
  • Toward a Common Strategy on First Nations Drinking Water Quality:

  • F. Henry Lickers, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
  • Freshwater Sources and First Nations Water Quality:

  • Chief Strikes with a Gun, Peigan First Nation

11:30 The Cumulative Effects of Global Warming and Human Effluents on the

Security of our Water:

Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology, University of Alberta

12:30 Working Lunch

1:30 Panel on Canada’s New Water Technologies

  • Using Canada’s Research Products:
  • Graham Best, Zenon Environmental Inc.
  • Access to New Technologies in Canada:
  • Dr. Hans Peterson, Principal Research Scientist, Safe Drinking Water Foundation

2:45 Panel on Canadian-International Considerations

  • Panel Chair & Co-Chair for Canada/United States Interparliamentary Group:

  • Joe Commuzi, Member of Parliament (Thunder Bay-Superior North)

  • Water and Canada’s International Agreements:

  • Barry Appleton, LLB, LLM, Appleton & Associates

  • First Nations & Economic Inclusion:

  • Dan Villeneuve, CEO, Iroquois Water

  • The U.S. Model and First Nations Water Quality:

  • Jeff Besougloff, American Indian Environmental Office, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

5:00 Summary of Findings and Overview for Thursday

Thursday, July 26

9:00 Agenda and Recap from Day One:

Dennis Mills, Member of Parliament (Toronto-Danforth)

9:15 International Work on Water Quality:

Dr. Ralph Daley, Director, United Nations University’s International Network on Water, Environment and Health, Hamilton, Ontario

9:45 Panel on Protecting First Nations Drinking Water Sources

  • Infrastructure & Wastewater Treatment:

  • Bill Marion, First Nations Water and Wastewater Association
  • Runoff Mitigation: Eva Johnson, Kahnawake Environment

  • Is the Same Protection Offered by Winter’s Doctrine and the Fisheries Act?: F. Henry Lickers, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
  • Impact on Biota and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement:
  • F. Henry Lickers, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

10:30 Senate Bill on Water Quality:

Senator Jerry Grafstein (Metro Toronto)

11:05 Translating Advice into Action: Next Steps:

Dennis Mills, Member of Parliament (Toronto-Danforth)

11:55 Closing Prayer – Grace Franks, Elder, Wahta Mohawk First Nation

Sport and Health

Final Report Released in December 1998

In December 1998, after exhaustive consultations throughout the country, the Sub-Committee on the Study of Sport in Canada (Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage) released its final report and recommendations: SPORT IN CANADA: EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS – LEADERSHIP, PARTNERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY, Chaired by Dennis Mills, MP (Toronto-Danforth).

From the Conclusions of the Report:

The future of sport in Canada depends on strong leadership, partnership and accountability. Our report leaves no doubt as to the significance of the role played by sport in this country. Sport is vital in terms of Canada’s economy, cultural identity and the general health and well-being of Canadians. Many Canadians – employees, participants and spectators – are touched by sport in some manner each and every day. Sport permeates both goods-producing and services-producing sectors of the economy. In the mid-1990s, sport’s share of the total output of the Canadian economy exceeded 1% and the sport industry employed more than 262,000 individuals. Sport’s share of total output in the Canadian economy exceeds many other industries including wood; logging and forestry; fishing and trapping; and aircraft and aircraft parts. In 1996, Canadians spent almost $8 billion on sport-related activities. Sport imparts a large impact on other sectors of the economy, especially tourism. It is estimated that sport contributes some $4 billion in tourism expenditures.

Today, millions of Canadians participate in one or more sports. Many individuals also participate in sport as coaches and organizers. The participation of spectators is also significant, as evidenced by the high-attendance levels at, and TV ratings afforded to, sporting events across the country. Canadians’ participation in sport exceeds all other activity.

Despite the upward trend in the number of physically active Canadians over the years, there is considerable scope for improvement as it is estimated that less than 40% of Canadians were active in 1995. And, since it is now widely accepted that physical activity contributes to a stronger and healthier population, increasing the level of activity among Canadians is growing in importance. Health Canada research suggests that a 10% reduction in the number of inactive Canadians would save the Canadian economy $5 billion. The Committee is very cognizant of sport’s role in this context and proposes a number of recommendations designed to enhance the general level of activity among Canadians and the vitality of sport in this country. Special focus is afforded to youth, women, disabled and Aboriginal people. The Committee recommends that a federal department of sport be created. It also calls for the introduction of a non-refundable tax credit for training costs incurred by volunteer coaches and officials and a non-refundable child sport tax credit, an allocation of some of the recent increase in Sport Canada funding to benefit underrepresented groups, an expansion of school sport programs, the integration of disabled persons into sports governing bodies and the creation and funding of an Aboriginal sports and recreation council.

The Committee recognizes the important role played by Canada’s high-performance amateur athletes and recommends that the number of national sport organizations eligible for funding be increased and that a minimum level of $100,000 be available to national sport organizations for olympic sport to provide a basic level of service for athletes. Furthermore, equity considerations call for a change in carding eligibility criteria so as to permit funding for all eligible national team athletes. The Committee also recommends that the federal government continue to support the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport in Canada’s fight to eliminate drug use in sport.

Professional sport is an important contributor to the economy and to the lives of many Canadians. Statistics Canada estimates that in the mid-1990s, professional sport and the presentation of live sport spectacles contributed approximately $608 million to Canadian GDP and created 23,715 jobs. However, the financial health of professional sport and its continued existence in this country are threatened by higher payroll and infrastructure costs and by the level of public support provided to professional teams south of the border. In recognition of the growing problems facing this component of Canada’s sport industry, the Committee recommends that a five-part federal strategy called the sport pact be established to promote the vitality and stability of professional sport in this country. This strategy would, for example, provide tax incentives to eligible sports franchises and encourage more small businesses to support their local teams.

Our vision of the future of sport in Canada, shared by many Canadians, calls for a stronger partnership between the public and private sectors and more co-operation between governments. All levels of government play an active role in promoting sport-related activities. As noted in this report, municipalities represent the backbone of our sport delivery system. It is at the community level that tomorrow’s world class athletes begin their training. To assist in the continued development of sports facilities, the Committee recommends that the federal government, in conjunction with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, initiate a sports facility infrastructure program. In addition, the Committee recommends that a fixed percentage of property sold by Canada Lands be used for recreational purposes. Equally important, new sources of sport funding must be developed and, in this context, the Committee recommends the creation of a new vehicle for funding amateur sport called the millennium sport bond.

These and the many other recommendations in this report represent the Committee’s vision for strengthening sport in this country. Much work lies ahead and the Committee invites all Canadians to work together to make this collective vision a reality. Finally, the Committee would like to thank all of those who generously shared their views and expertise on this very important subject and who made this report possible.


Outcomes of the Work

The Right Honourable Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada, acted on the main recommendations from Sport in Canada,  announcing the creation of a new portfolio that was to be headed by Denis Coderre, MP (Bourassa).

On August 2, 1999, the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada, recruited into the Cabinet MP Denis Coderre, the member representing the riding of Bourassa in Quebec.

Coderre would serve as the Secretary of State for Amateur sport, a newly created portfolio recommended by the sub-committee report.

Responding to Coderre’s appointment as the Sport minister, Mills said enthusiastically, “Denis is the obvious person to head the initiatives that will eminate from this portfolio.  It’s long overdue that Canadians see amateur sport in this country brought from out of mothball status and right onto the front burner.

Highlights of the Work

Sport in Canada represents the most comprehensive parliamentary review of sport in 30  years, since the 1969 Task Force Report on Sport.

 68 of 69 recommendations deal primarily with amateur sport.

 The Report acknowledges the economic scope and magnitude of sport in Canada, the industry of sport.

 The Report recognizes the powerful contribution of sport in building healthy, productive citizens and communities in a uniquely Canada way — the spirit of sport.

Sport represents $8.9 billion in GDP.

 Sport accounts for 262,326 jobs in Canada.

The Report also recommended a Sport Tax Credit

– It’s designed to encourage family expenditure on sport and recreation programs and equipment.

– It would be a non-refundable credit of $1,000 per child based on a total expense of $5,882.

-It would be targetted to families with household income of $55,000 or less  (one child), $65,000 or less (two children), $75,000 or less (three children)

– Total cost of the child sport tax credit is estimated at $43-$86 million (compare that number to the Child Tax Benefit, which is expected to cost over $1.7 billion in the year 2000)

Complete Report







Single Tax System

Development started in 1989

A single tax system is an integrated and simplified system of income tax that replaces the varied and graduated rates of the current system. It is a system that is defined by simplicity, fairness and efficiency.

Updated Fall 2019 at

National Food Plan

Commenced March 2000

The following is the full text of a speech on Canada’s need for a National Food Plan, delivered in the House of Commons March 17, 2000 by Toronto-Danforth MP Dennis Mills

Introductory Remarks to A National Food Plan

“…Mr. Speaker, I should point out that I intended to deliver this speech to a group of restaurant owners in my riding this evening. Instead, that privilege will happen next week.

I felt it was important that we begin this discussion on a National Food Plan in the House of Commons. I would also like to acknowledge my western, urban and rural caucus colleagues, with whom I have been working for the past four months on developing a National Food Plan.

It is important that we begin this discussion here because there is no greater fundamental to a healthy society than a healthy food system. Put another way, Mr. Speaker, if we do not have a healthy food system that works for the benefit of all Canadians, if we do not have a food system that works as well as it could, then we cannot fully achieve our goals in continually working to build and strengthen a healthy society.

Key to our health is the food we eat. And fundamental to the food we eat is the quality, affordability, safety, access and security of that food.

Mr. Speaker, our food system, its production and its distribution, its ownership and its control, have changed dramatically—without public debate, with public knowledge of the importance or the impacts of these changes, and, more importantly, without a clear and well-defined National Food Plan.

Before I move into the details of A National Food Plan, Mr. Speaker, I want to further highlight the natural importance of food to health. One of the organizations that have contributed to developing this Plan is Foodshare of Toronto. Foodshare, Mr. Speaker, understands the importance of a healthy food system to a healthy society. They work each day in making sure that families, seniors and children have access to nutritious, affordable, safe and high quality food, by distributing the Good Food Box to thousands of residents throughout Toronto.

They understand, as do my colleagues and I, that children and seniors, especially, and all Canadians in general, need healthy eating and a nutritious diet as a pre-condition to healthy bodies, healthy minds and overall healthy lifestyles. Of course, a healthy society has tremendous benefits when we talk about the health care system in this country.

Food, Mr. Speaker, is a key determinant of our health as a society. And the production, distribution, ownership and control of our food system is something that my colleagues and I are very excited about presenting today through A National Food Plan.

The source of our food, of course, is the farm. So I must begin by discussing that source and the beleaguered state that Canada’s family farms are in. I will describe the loss of our food processing sector, and I will conclude by outlining key components of a National Food Plan.

A National Food Plan

Worst crisis since the 1930s

The farm income crisis we’ve all heard about is real. Today, net farm income for many farmers is as low as it was during the great Depression. [1]  But this isn’t the Depression. The world economy hasn’t collapsed; the stock markets haven’t crashed; and there has not been a prairie-wide drought. Never, during times of economic prosperity have we seen a farm crisis of this magnitude.

Farmers have done everything they can

Some people blame the farmers. In the 1980s and early-90s, whenever farm incomes dropped, experts were ready with advice for farmers: expand, diversify, quit growing wheat, grow high value crops, embrace new technology. The message was: farm incomes are low because farmers are doing something wrong.

Farmers took the experts’ advice. Today, on large farms, farmers are growing chickpeas and lentils, raising wild boars and alpacas, using genetically-engineered seeds and high-tech seeding equipment, value-adding, and marketing. For all this investment and innovation, farmers have been rewarded with the lowest net farm incomes since the 1930s.

The farm income crisis is hitting farmers all around the world. U.S. farmers are struggling. The U.S. government spent $27 billion [2] last year to support its farmers. Farmers in Australia and Argentina, England and the Philippines have been hammered by record low commodity prices and rising production costs. When one looks at the worldwide nature of this crisis, it is hard to believe that our farmers are to blame, or that our farmers, alone, can solve this problem. 

Not working any better for processing sector

We must remember that farmers are not the entire agricultural economy. Farmers are one part of a larger agri-food sector that includes input manufacturers, food processors, meat packers, restaurant owners, and others.

So perhaps the dislocation of farm families has been offset by significant job creation in the food processing sector. After all, when the Crowsnest Pass Freight Rate was discontinued in 1984, and the Crow Benefit in 1995, it was predicted that these changes would lead to rural diversification, increased domestic food processing, and processing jobs. Today, the food processing sector employs fewer Canadians than it did in 1984.[3] The jobs that were predicted have not materialized.

But much more disturbing, is that over the last 15 years foreign corporations have taken over Canada’s important food processing sector. From milling to malt, from pasta to beef packing, foreign ownership and control of our food processing is increasing. Foreign corporations own 79% of Canada’s flour milling capacity. Just one American corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, owns approximately 50% of Canada’s milling capacity. Its ownership stake is up from 30% in 1995 and zero in 1985.

Malt is used to make beer. And Canadian malt plants are 93% foreign owned. Foreign corporations have taken over 90% of our pasta plant capacity. And 74% of our beef packing sector [4] is owned by only two U.S. firms, Cargill and International Beef Packers.

So the global agricultural system is not serving farmers as well as predicted, nor is it serving the Canadian economy and national interests any better. 

Not serving consumers

Nor is Canada’s food system serving consumers as well as it could.

For example, the price of corn has not changed in twenty years, but the price of corn flakes have tripled. Wheat prices haven’t changed either, but bread prices have tripled. [5]

This says something about the efficiency of our farmers, ladies and gentlemen. Canada’s farmers are so efficient that they can produce food for the same prices they did 25 years ago. In contrast, processors and retailers have tripled the prices they charge for their services.

We are often told that bigger is better; that large companies are more efficient. Maybe we should let small farmers go bankrupt so that the remaining large farms can supply us with cheaper food. But the evidence points the other way. It has been the farmers who have held the line on price increases for 25 years. It might be interesting to see if Kellogg’s could sell Corn Flakes at 1975 prices or if Safeway or A&P could sell bread at 1975 prices. It would be interesting to see just how efficient these big corporations are in that respect.

The bottom line is that farmers are going bankrupt at one end and consumers are paying more, despite a hold on prices from the farmers, at the other. 

Human vignette

There is, of course, more to the story than mere dollars and economics; there is also an immense human tragedy. Across Canada, farm families are caught in the gears of what many have come to describe as a malfunctioning global agricultural machine, one that has decimated rural communities, often damages the Canadian economy, and seriously puts into question Canada’s capacity to produce food. 

Need a National Food Plan

So Canada’s food system—indeed, the world’s food system—while working to the benefit of some, is not working to the benefit of everyone, least of all the family farms. Is this system destroying and destabilizing key sectors of Canada’s economy? Many experts say so. What is more certain is that this system is seriously and negatively affecting many of our communities.

The main reason we are in this position is because Canada does not have a National Food Plan.

Rather than craft an effective Food Plan, we have been part of the pack: we’ve deregulated, we’ve signed trade agreements, we’ve increased food exports, and we’ve turned agriculture over to “the market.” On a very superficial level, this strategy has been a success: agri-food exports have quadrupled since the mid 1970s.[6] But we should not be fooled by this increase. Farmers have not seen one penny of benefit from these increased exports.

Our free trade, export-expansion policies have given away Canadian markets and forced farmers to rely, instead, on low-price, volatile world markets.

Now I know that it isn’t fashionable to talk about serving the domestic market or acting to control and channel trade flows. But when I look at the family farm crisis in this country, the hand-overs of Canada’s food processing sector to foreign multinationals, the failure of that sector to create promised jobs, and the growing disparity between what the farmer gets and the consumer pays, I can only conclude that it is time to abandon what’s fashionable and examine alternatives to our current path.

Components of a National Food Plan

Canada needs a National Food Plan—one that will safeguard the family farm, maintain Canadian ownership of our strategic food processing sector, create jobs, protect food safety, and ensure that farmers receive a fair share of the consumer’s grocery-store dollar. We need a National Food Plan that puts the needs and interests of Canadian farm families, and the urban families that eat the food, right in the forefront of our concerns. 

One: who owns the economy

First, we need to act to maintain Canadian control of key industries. American railway, Burlington Northern Sante Fe, is buying Canadian National Railway. Canadian Pacific Railway may merge with U.S. carrier Union Pacific. These are the railways that haul Canadian grain and they are also key strategic links in the Canadian economy. Canada is about to lose control of its railways.

We may also soon lose control of our grain companies. A decade ago, farmers in the west co-operatively owned most of the elevators there. Once a co-operative, United Grain Growers decided to sell stock on the stock exchange in 1992 and, six years later, the American conglomerate, Archer Daniels Midland, stepped in and bought 42% of that stock—giving it effective control.

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, Canada’s largest grain company, created by farmers in 1924, began selling stock in 1995. Though farmers opposed this move, Sask. Wheat Pool refused to put the change to a vote. Today, Sask. Pool shares are around five dollars, down from a high of $24 within the last three years. And it is almost certain that a large U.S. grain company will soon move in and buy Sask. Pool. Many speculate that the talks have already begun.

And with the merger of Case/IH with New Holland, farmers are left with only two major farm equipment makers. More important, the merger may result in the closure of Canada’s last remaining large-tractor plant. It is outrageous that, with all our land, we may soon cease to make our own tractors.

There are currently six major Canadian grain companies. And industry analysts predict that mergers and takeovers by U.S. companies will soon leave only three multinationals.

U.S. and other foreign transnationals are moving in and buying up even more of the Canadian economy, some say even “looting” it. Former Conservative Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed recognized that in a recent speech. Democratic control requires control over one’s economy. And we are losing that control.

We must take immediate and decisive action, both in regard to agriculture and the larger Canadian economy. We must act now and immediately renew the Competition Act. That Act must assess large investments in Canada on the basis of their effects on Canada’s farmers and Canada’s food production system. To remain within the parameters of existing international trade agreements, we must use the tax system to create incentives for broad-based co-operative ownership of vital food processing companies—co-operative ownership by Canadian farmers AND consumers. This would ensure that these companies remain Canadian-owned and controlled.

With regard to our railways, the federal government should examine its options under the existing trade agreements. Canadian railways transport our food, serve remote communities, act as a link in our national defense system, and transport Canadian minerals and forestry products. Surely, when it comes to key strategic infrastructure such as our railways, the Canadian government has options other than merely watching helplessly as these companies pass from Canadian hands. 

Two: the farmers’ share

Another component of our National Food Plan would ensure that farmers receive a fair share of the consumers’ grocery store dollar. There are several ways to do this. As a first step, and one that will cost little or nothing, I would propose legislation that requires that every grocery item bear a prominent label, which lists the farmers’ share of the retail price. I believe that Canadians will form a new understanding of the farm income crisis when they are reminded, every day, that the farmer gets only a nickel from the $1.40 loaf of bread and only 14˘ out of a $15 case of beer.[7]

Further, we need to study the farmers’ declining share of the grocery-store dollar, determine the causes of this destructive trend, and act decisively to ensure that increases in the stores translate into increases in farmgate prices, thereby ensuring fairness, equity, and economic sustainability in the overall system.

Three: more market power for farmers: marketing boards

Any Canadian Food Plan must ensure that farmers have access to tools which give them proper leverage and a fairer footing in the marketplace. A lone farmer cannot extract a fair price when bargaining with a hundred-billion-dollar-a-year food processor. But when farmers work together through marketing boards and supply management agencies they have that leverage.

Further, this collective strategy is a prudent open-market strategy. Banks, media companies, automakers, airlines, and companies around the world are merging. These companies understand three things: 1) you have to be big to play in the global market; 2) market power is important; and, 3) fewer sellers means fewer competitors, which means higher prices.

These are the principles upon which farmers’ marketing agencies are based. Those who urge farmers to emulate the open-market had better have a look at the realities of that market, and realize that by joining together through marketing boards, farmers are imitating a powerful and prudent open-market strategy already in place in most other sectors.

In Canada, farmers sell milk, eggs, and poultry through a supply-management system. Because of this system, these farmers have been spared from the current farm income crisis. These systems work.

Supply management helps farm families stay on the land and it helps them pass on their farms to sons and daughters. Yet, some oppose the quota system used in supply management. They argue that supply management “prevents entry”, that it prevents new farmers from entering the dairy business, for instance. Those who make that argument seem to imply that without this barrier, the number of Canadian dairy farms would be increasing. Well, the U.S. has no such barrier to entry. And the number of dairy farmers there is not increasing. In fact, the U.S. has lost 45% of their dairy farmers over the last ten years.[8]

Canada’s supply management systems deliver fair and predictable incomes to farmers and stable supplies of essential products to consumers at competitive prices.

The Canadian Wheat Board is the single seller of Canadian wheat and barley around the world. Study after study shows that the Wheat Board puts extra money into farmers’ pockets. For this reason, farmers overwhelmingly support the CWB. The CWB is governed by a board of directors democratically elected by farmers.

Canada’s supply-management systems and the Canadian Wheat Board can serve as valuable models for other farm products. As part of a National Food Plan, the federal government should move immediately to work with farmers in examining the idea of a supply-management system.

The government must then begin to work with farmers to pave the way for new collective marketing agencies. As a final step, it should hold a vote of all affected farmers and proceed according to their democratic will.

Four: more market power for farmers: collective buying

While farmers need collective leverage when selling their products, they also need collective leverage when buying their inputs, just as the current government has done with the new Canadian Wheat Board.

A generation ago, we had a dozen major farm machinery manufacturers. Today, we have two. Individually, Canada’s 276,000 farm families have little bargaining power against these giants. And with the declining number of firms in each sector, competition provides little protection.

Just as farmers and government worked together to form collective selling agencies, farmers and government must now work together to form collective buying agencies. 

Five: controlling agri-business market power

An effective National Food Plan would also control the power of huge agri-business transnationals.

When a farmer raises pigs, he or she needs to cover production costs and make a profit. When a typical agri-business transnational raises hogs in one of its huge barns and ships those hogs to its packing plant, the price of the hog is irrelevant. If hog prices fall, that transnational merely makes more money at the packing plant level. The family farmer, however, goes broke. It is impossible for a farmer to compete with a huge transnational that owns the packing plants as well as the barns.

Further, when packers own the pigs, farmers lose “price discovery.” Since pigs move from one division to another of the same company, and not through public auction, farmers cannot even determine the “market price.”

Packers should not own pigs or any other livestock. Livestock must be sold through public auctions or public contracts with mandatory price reporting. 

Six: Food safety

Our National Food Plan must ensure that food is safe. Canada enjoys a reputation for producing some of the highest quality food in the world. But that reputation is threatened by continued cuts to our food inspection system and by increasing corporate interference in our health-protection system.

Canada’s National Food Plan must specify that Canadian food is tested, regulated and inspected by independent government inspectors and scientists. 

Food Security

In addition to food safety, we need food security. Living in Canada, surrounded by agricultural land which produces more food than Canadians need, it is hard for us to imagine that the world may be plunged into a devastating food shortage.

But let us be perfectly clear on this point. There is no surplus of food. The conventional wisdom that farmers’ prices are low because of oversupply is not true. Today, we have only an 80-day supply of wheat in the world.[9] When we look at corn, oats, and other staple grains, the world supply is less than two months.

I think that when one looks at these low levels of food stocks, combined with the hunger and starvation in the world, and then one looks at the low prices and the economic pain Canadian farm families are facing, I think that one must conclude that the system is ready for serious revision and improvement.

We need a National Food Plan that will ensure that Canada—and the world—has food security. 

Seven: International trade and the WTO

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Canada’s National Food Plan must deal honestly with the effects of globalization, increased trade, and the NAFTA and WTO agreements.

These agreements have not benefitted farmers or the Canadian economy as a whole as well as predicted. In agriculture, these agreements have created a huge pool of low-priced produce that moves around the world markets and sometimes damages food production systems in many nations. By globalizing food production and distribution, these agreements have increased the power of transnational grain companies relative to farmers—who must remain local.

Further, these agreements increasingly block actions that Canadians want, namely to safeguard our food system, food safety, and food security.

Canadian farmers, consumers and industry representatives must define clear and measurable goals and objectives with respect to its food system. And we must then determine whether the current export-expansion, free-trade system is moving us towards those goals or away from them. 


In conclusion, I believe that Canada must lead the world in moving toward a new vision of food production and distribution. To do this, Canada must craft its Food Plan based upon the following principles:

  1. All Canadians must have secure access to sufficient, nutritious, safe food;
  2. Canada must work internationally toward global food security;
  3. Local families must own the land and the farms;
  4. Farmers must receive a fair and adequate return for their work;
  5. Farm practices must protect and enhance the natural environment;
  6. Wealth created in rural areas must foster the security and prosperity of rural communities;
  7. Canada’s food processing, retailing, and restaurant sectors must be Canadian-owned engines of growth and job creation for Canadians;
  8. Canada’s trade policies and trade agreements must move us toward, not away from, the preceding goals.

I call on all Canadians to join with me in working toward these goals, domestically and internationally. I call on all Canadians—rural and urban—to work with me to create a National Food Plan for Canada.

Thank you.

(End of speech.)   


[1] Low income levels: in Saskatchewan, 1999 per-farm realized net income (adjusted for inflation) was projected to be just $1,783.  In order to find a level this low, one has to go back to 1938.  Worse still, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has predicted negative realized net farm incomes for Saskatchewan in 2001, 2002, and 2003.   The situation is the same of grain, oilseed, specialty crop, and hog farms across Canada.  Net farm income is not the same as profit.  Profit is calculated after everyone is paid.  Net farm income is calculated before any allowance is made for farm family labour and management. 

[2] Number courtesy of Canadian Wheat Board. 

[3] A Profile of Employment in the Agri-Food Chain, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, April 1999 

[4] Packer data collected by Jim Bateman for the Manitoba Department of Agricultural Economics.  Pasta plant and flour milling data from the Canadian Wheat Board. 

[5] Consumer prices from Stats. Can. Catalogue # 62-010 

[6] Export and import numbers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Agri-Food Trade Service

[7] Calculations by NFU 

[8] 1989: 202,890 U.S. operations with dairy cattle.    1999: 111,220 operations.  USDA. 

[9] All stocks/use data from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

End of notes.

Molson Rocks for Toronto

July 30th 2003

In 2003, the World Health Organization put Toronto under an international health warning. An global event headed by the Rolling Stones helped steer Toronto past the economic and reputational damage done by SARS – and created a lasting legacy for Toronto.

In 2003, Toronto experienced a number of cases of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and was placed under an international health warning from the World Health Organization. The negative publicity surrounding the SARS findings led to a downturn in Toronto’s tourism industry. Although health officials were able to contain the incidences of SARS in Toronto, the economic and reputational damage had been done.

A solution was needed.  But that solution would not simply happen on its own. Moreover, many, many partners would be needed.

That’s when Toronto-Danforth Member of Parliament, Dennis Mills, and global concert promoter, Michael Cohl, worked with the Rolling Stones to create Molson Rocks for Toronto.

Dozens of planners collaborated, including the three levels of government, emergency service personnel from the GTA, the TTC and TTC WheelTrans, CBC, and

Estimated to have close to half a million people attending the concert, it is the largest outdoor ticketed event in Canadian history, and one of the largest ever in North America. It even featured the longest BBQ in the world, with venders from Alberta’s beef industry.

Also a first of its kind, more than 2,000 fans with disabilities — an estimated 700 of those in wheelchairs – attended in a specially constructed area near the stage.

The concert was organized in about a month.

The event opened in the afternoon with the Have Love Will Travel Revue (Aykroyd and James Belushi), Sam RobertsKathleen EdwardsLa ChicaneThe Tea PartyThe Flaming Lips who invited artists from backstage to dance on stage with them dressed in fuzzy animal costumes, Sass JordanThe Isley Brothers, and Blue Rodeo. Each band performed for 15–20 minutes. The second part of the concert began later in the afternoon and lasted into the night and included Justin TimberlakeThe Guess WhoRushAC/DC, and The Rolling Stones, who performed a 90-minute set to end the concert.

With the global coverage the event garnered, and Mick Jagger’s pronouncement that “Toronto is booming,” the SARS stigma was over.

The 2-DVD set that featured performances by the Rolling Stones, ACDC, Rush, The Guess Who and many more.

30 Video Sample of SARS Concert

Concert rocked economy to the tune of $75-million, The Globe and Mail, August 7th 2003

Just Ignore the Whiners: The Downsview concert offered relief from the usual national neuroses, Paul Wells in Macleans, August 11th, 2003

Building on the Green Footsteps

Developed in 2004

On January 16, 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin assigned Dennis the task of reviewing the progress to date of the Toronto waterfront revitalization and to develop specific recommendations for how the federal government could better serve the Greater Toronto Area.  The result is the action plan, Building on the Green Footsteps.

Background and Message from Dennis Mills

On January 16, 2004, The Honourable Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada, gave me the task of reviewing the progress of the Toronto waterfront revitalization initiative. I was asked to develop specific recommendations for immediate action by the Government of Canada to rejuvenate the physical and social environment and the economic competitiveness of the city of Toronto.

Over the past 100 years the Toronto waterfront has been created through the continuing efforts of all three levels of government. The federal government has made significant investments in this important undertaking.

These recommendations support the work done by many dedicated parties and, in particular, highlight initiatives proposed by the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation.

Toronto loves the waterfront and it has the potential to be one of the city’ major tourist attractions. The waterfront properties east of Yonge Street, and especially the Port Lands, are ripe for rejuvenation and improved public access. Several of the initiatives that we recommend are of national importance and the Government of Canada should play a role in their realization.

We have recognized the requirement for mixed-income housing in the West Don Lands. Beyond that housing, we see an opportunity to quickly invigorate the waterfront with acres of new green space for the enjoyment of Toronto citizens and visitors all year round. We are recommending that the Government of Canada work closely with the local transit providers to determine the best means of developing public transit to the new parks and recreation facilities.

To quote Thomas Homer-Dixon, “we design our cities to block out the intrusions and fluctuations of the natural world”. This should change.

Our waterfront should not be a wall of condominiums. We do not want the waterfront east of Yonge Street to mirror the area west of it. Instead, we envision easily accessible green space and recreational facilities, where citizens will be glad to go and enjoy their lake.

By greening our waterfront we will enhance the already thriving variety of wildlife and birds in the area. Our support of cultural activities, including a Shakespearean outdoor theatre and an aboriginal cultural centre, will make the lakefront a destination place.

Some of the Port Lands will be dedicated to a variety of sports facilities. These facilities will provide badly needed infrastructure for Toronto to capitalize on the growing sports tourism industry. It will also promote healthy exercise and recreation for our youth.

Friends of the Leslie St. Spit have offered suggestions for maintaining the greenery in the southern part of the Port Lands. Our recommendation that major parkland be administered by Parks Canada will guarantee the long-term security for the public of the green waterfront.

We need to clean up our environment for future generations.

Our recommendations will create major tourist activity that will lead to expanded economic opportunities on the waterfront. The National Arctic Ocean Aquarium, the tourism created by the new ferry service to the United States, as well as the sport tourism generated by international competition in paddling, rowing and dragon boat racing are examples of such synergy. In so doing we support the Toronto Board of Trade’s initiatives to encourage tourism.

Toronto’s international profile will be enhanced by the establishment of the United Nations University for Peace.

Toronto is a great and unique place. The new green space we propose is our commitment to the future of this city. Facilities built for year round activities will ensure a vibrant waterfront.

We applaud the fine planning work accomplished by the City of Toronto. Our desire is to build on the vision to make this vital part of our city, not only a jewel to Toronto, but to all of Canada.

In developing these recommendations, we have been inspired by the work of a great conservationist, Charles Sauriol, enshrined in the book, The Green Footsteps. Amongst the hundreds of proposals and people consulted, the passions and writings of two other very dedicated men have shown us the way: David Crombie and Robert Fung.

We believe that these recommendations can be acted upon immediately. Seventy-eight million dollars of new money is required to initiate the action plan. This is a public investment in the health, commerce and social fabric of Canada’s largest city. It is an investment to secure Toronto’s future.

The recommendations reflect and give testimony to the work and thoughts of many who have dedicated their lives to this great city. Their footsteps are large and I propose that we follow in them.

Dennis Mills
MP, Toronto-Danforth


Charles Sauriol

Charles Sauriol, the renowned author and conservationist dedicated his life to rescuing natural heritage land. He acquired a life long appreciation for the natural treasures it held. He foresaw the relationship between a clean environment and a healthy life.
Mr. Sauriol would have been delighted that the final chapter of the Don River story will have a happy ending

David Crombie

David Crombie is a former Mayor of Toronto, Member of Parliament and Federal Cabinet Minister. He is the Founding Chair of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. In 1988 Mr. Crombie was Commissioner of the Government of Canada’s Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront and is one of the most insightful champions of waterfront revitalization.

Robert A. Fung

Robert A. Fung is chairman of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, a corporation established by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto to lead the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. Mr. Fung chaired the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Task Force whose report was issued in March 2000.

Family Farm Tribute

Developed in 1999-2000


It was the late-autumn of 1999. Dennis Mills, the Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth, colleagues from the Toronto area, policy aides from the Danforth office, and a number of concerned friends were discussing the news of the worst growing season in Canadian agriculture since the Great Depression.

What could be done to help alleviate such crises from arising in the future? How could urban Canada help? How could we energize Canadians-in the cities especially, where most of Canada’s population resides-to embrace the importance of Canadian family farmers as a cornerstone of the safety and security of our national food supply?

CBC Radio: MP Dennis Mills plans family farm tribute

The idea emerged from that afternoon’s roundtable to produce a national event, which would enlist the help of some of Canada’s best musical talent, to be held in downtown Toronto that would bring the message, the joys and challenges, of rural Canadians and family farmers to urban Canadians. This would not be an aid event or a benefit concert. This would be geared toward raising awareness of the importance of family farmers as the source of the food we eat.

Western Producer, January 6, 2000: Toronto MP champions urban farm rally

Dozens of caring and passionate sponsors, family farmers from throughout Canada, volunteers, parliamentary colleagues and musicians put their support behind the idea.

Approximately one month later, on Sunday January 16, 2000, so, too, did nearly 12,000 people who gathered in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for the Canada’s first Family Farm Tribute (not to mention all those in Canada and in the United States who tuned in to CBC Newsworld’s live television broadcast of the five-hour event).

The event featured 19 top Canadian musical acts spanning a variety of genres, a comprehensive family farm exhibit gallery, and educational video transmitted between performances through the Air Canada Centre’s jumbotron system. The event was carried live to a national audience by CBC Newsworld, and by Standard Radio (The Mix and CFRB) and its affiliate stations throughout the country. The simultaneous webcast was by CBC Online and

$20,000 in proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the Prairie Farm Women’s Crisis Fund, a national initiative administered by the Canadian Women’s Foundation designed to assist women and children of farm families living in crisis situations.

Just days prior to this event, Honourable Lyle Van Clief, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced immediate measures for farm income assistance packages to Canada’s family farmers.

Since that first event, Family Farm Tribute has organized several initiatives that promote the importance of Canada’s family farmers and the safety and security of our national food supply.

Family Farm Food Fare – April 2000

On Saturday April 29th of that same year, Family Farm Tribute hosted the Family Farm Food Fare at the Holy Name Church on Danforth Avenue in Toronto.

The event featured live farm animals on the Church lawn, trucked in courtesy of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and two dedicated family farmers from Ontario’s Peel Region, a vegetarian cooking demonstration by the catering division of Field to Table together with representatives from the Dieticians of Canada, and a keynote presentation by guest of honour, the Honourable Allan Rock, Canada’s Minister of Health.

This event was designed to reinforce the message that we are what we eat — and the source of that safe and secure food most often comes from our very own family farmers.

The event was sponsored in part by Foodshare Toronto, a non-profit organization that receives, grows and delivers fresh food to thousands of lower-income families in the Toronto area.

Canadian Family Farm Food and Wine Celebration – February 2001

In January 2001, Ontario farmers Joe Hickson, John Doner, Bruce Pearse, John Holtrop, Dale Mountjoy, David Frew and Don Chapman visited Dennis Mills at Dennis’ constituency office on The Danforth. They posed an interesting question: “How can we get elected MPs in the House of Commons to become as energized as those who attended the first Family Farm Tribute a year earlier?

The idea that emerged from that afternoon’s discussion developed into Canada’s largest-ever gathering of family farmers, MPs, Senators, staffers and aides on Parliament Hill.

On the evening of Tuesday February 20, 2001, Family Farm Tribute hosted what was our second major event, the Canadian Family Farm Food and Wine Celebration, in Parliament’s Hall of Honour in the Centre Block. Those who design the public policies and the laws of our land were treated to an evening of discussion, dialogue and education by those who grow the food for our nation. Our message was simple: come and taste and appreciate and the fruits of our national harvest and meet and understand those who grow it for you.

Perhaps one of the more memorable aspects of this event was the fact that this was the first time that nearly 300 family farmers were meeting with national officials from all parties inside Canada’s Parliament, instead of demonstrating or protesting on the lawns outside the institution.
Of course, the treat for everyone was the 32 buffet tables that featured a sampling of virtually every food grown in Canada by family farmers coast-to-coast. The variety of what is actually grown and produced in Canada amazed and surprised even some of the farmers themselves. Samplings included east coast cultivated shellfish, northern Ontario pickerel, Okanogan Valley apples, Saskatoon berries, Ontario lamb, Alberta beef, PEI potatoes, specialty pastas made from prairie wheat, wines from the Niagara Peninsula, dozens of speciality cheeses from Quebec, as well as many domestically-farmed game meats, hothouse-grown vegetables and Canadian-grown herbs and garnishes (such as sweet lemon grass, fiddleheads, rhubarb, and salad rye seed).

The event, attended by about 1,400 people (estimates from Parliament Hill Security), was held one week following and as a follow-up to the Emergency Debate on Agriculture, moved in the House of Commons by Rick Borotsik, MP for Brandon-Souris.

Family Farm Tribute – Live at the Danforth Music Hall
January 12, 2002

Family Farm Tribute rolled into the historic Music Hall on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue on January 12, 2002 for an amazing, rocking show. The fourth major event in the series, Live at the Danforth Music Hall continued its emphasis on bringing together national food awareness and family farmers from throughout the country, along with top Canadian musicians and live interactive educational material.

Live at the Danforth Music Hall featured live performances by:

The Jim Cuddy Band
Jason McCoy
Sarah Slean
Ray Materick
Murray McLauchlan
Faith Chorale
Catherine Durand
Comedian Paul Mussel

Host John Oakley, and guest hosts Steve Anthony and Kim Rossi, welcomed the fans, farmers and musicians into the venue that served as a live studio for the afternoon. This event was preceded by a caravan of hundreds of farmers driving farm equipment along Ontario’s major highways, and finishing the route on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue, a spectacle that was reported on by several national television stations and featured live helicopter coverage. A planned documentary of the event, in partnership with Country Music Television, saw the production of a preliminary “rough cut” video.

Live at the Danforth Music Hall was a production of The Mills Network and was made possible by:

Mix99.9 fm
Country Music Television (CMT)
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Western Producer
Paquin Entertainment
Planet 3 Communications
Centrenet Tel-Com
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Canadian Federation of Agriculture
The In-House Group of Companies
Ottawa Life
Dog and Pony Productions, Inc.

Become a Senator — Action Plan for Senate Reform in Canada

Presented 1989-1990

National unity issues began boiling across the country in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many Canadians began to view our national institutions as inefficient and ineffective, and no longer representing the issues and concerns of Canadians throughout the country. Most Canadians agreed that the Senate of Canada was one of those institutions that needed reform.

Become a Senator was an Action Plan developed by Dennis and several young, passionate Canadians from across the country. The Plan was simple and do-able, and it was developed based on the most recent constitutional and political analyses of the time.

Ingenuity Canada

Inaugurated April 11, 2002

Ingenuity Canada was launched in the spring of 2002 at Cinespace Studios on Toronto’s Waterfront. Inspired in part by the scholarly publication, The Ingenuity Gap by Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ingenuity Canada brought more than a thousand people together in a sound stage used for a major movie production, and recognized the ingenuity of 20 outstanding Canadians.

The event was hosted by Belinda Stronach of Magna International, and featured a ceremony with custom-designed awards (in the image of former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau), book signings by Thomas Homer-Dixon, live entertainment within the movie set, and plenty of inspiration. 

Ingenuity Canada later hosted a live webcast focusing on national and international issues, as well as promising ideas for public policy, from the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto, and even featured an Internet radio studio located in the constituency office of Toronto-Danforth MP, Dennis Mills.