House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agriculture.

Topics

Agriculture
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today to address the subject of agriculture.

Because of my rather extensive experience and background in agriculture I have a bit of trouble when I read the motion as put forward. It talks about proactive work of the government and uses phrases and words such as co-operation, enhance, building the sector to be among the best in the world, and sustainable agriculture. Sustainable is a good catch phrase. It is one that we as farmers have heard and used ourselves for some time now. Farmers are not looking for fancy catch phrases or motions but some assurance of where we are headed from this point.

As I have said I was born and raised on a farm. As such I have had the enjoyment of learning firsthand about picking rocks on our land. I have been involved in farming virtually all my life. For many years I operated about a 3,000 acre grain farm with one of my brothers who continues our family farming tradition today.

The farm was started by my father with the help of the Veterans Land Act shortly after the second world war. My family has quite a tradition of being on the land. Something I have witnessed and something I have personally felt is what I call the farmer's love of the land. The enjoyment of actually producing from one's own efforts is the very reason so many farmers today continue to struggle against all odds every year

when the economics of their business would dictate that in reality they should just give up and do something else, do something more profitable.

This love of the land could be equated to the similar feelings I am sure aboriginal peoples have for their traditional lands, or that foresters feel for forests, or pilots for the skies. In short, farmers are happiest when they are working on their land or working with their livestock.

Back home right now I know they have started preparing the soil and planting the 1994 crop. As I said earlier, they desperately need some assurance from the government that it intends to support those efforts with more than simply more empty rhetoric.

Over the years I have been involved in many farm organizations working on behalf of my fellow farmers. For a while I was president of the B.C. Grain Producers Association. As such I served as the director responsible for grain with the B.C. Federation of Agriculture. I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand farm programs that I would say were designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats. By that I mean programs that have been unnecessarily cumbersome and heavy in administration, programs designed more to justify an ongoing need for government jobs than for sustaining agriculture.

The reality is that farmers are not asking for a handout. They never have and they never will. They just want to be able to earn a decent return on their investment and labour. In short they need to know if their industry will be protected from circumstances completely beyond their control.

Because farmers sell their products on the world market they are price takers, not price setters. When our competitors, namely the EEC and the U.S., choose to continue the seemingly never-ending trade war, it is our farmers who are caught in the middle.

City dwellers simply do not understand some of the sacrifices their rural cousins are called upon to make. I am speaking about the need for off-farm income. It has been well documented that in order to sustain farm operations farmers' wives are working off farm. Farmers may spend many days themselves in the wintertime away from their families just to sustain their farming operations. Also they have to make do with much lower standards of living in some cases than those of their urban neighbours.

I am concerned that when urban people drive by and see a farmer working his fields they relate his efforts to a small businessman rather than to an industry. They should be better educated about the situation. When they see a farmer and consider the need to sustain agriculture and to assist farmers, they must look at it as a primary industry similar to forestry, oil and gas or mining rather than a small business. It is not fair to equate farming with small business because like forestry, it is renewable.

I have always been somewhat upset when I pick up a newspaper and read about another subsidy to farmers. We have to recognize that all industries at different times, especially our natural resource industries, call upon both levels of government to support them. At different times both levels of government provide tax incentives or royalty holidays or initiate specific programs to assist major industries. As I have said, agriculture should not be viewed any differently.

Over the years there has virtually been a flood of farm programs supposedly designed to assist farms to remain sustainable. As has already been outlined, some programs have taken the form of transportation subsidies, the Crows Nest Pass rate which eventually became the Western Grain Transportation Act. There are various feed freight assistance programs and those types of things. Some have been designed to protect farmers from natural disasters, natural elements. Crop insurance is a program put in place to provide that type of protection.

There have been many others implemented to protect farmers from price fluctuations in the marketplace. The western grain stabilization program was such a program. It was proclaimed in 1976 and was eventually dissolved 15 years later in 1991. I know from personal experience on our farm that in consultations among my father, my brother and I, we chose not to participate in that program because we could see that it was not sustainable. By the way it was initially set up, it was not a good program for farmers.

As president of the B.C. grain producers I was personally involved with the special Canadian grains program that came about because of the trade war. In 1985-86 it was recognized that the WGSA was simply not addressing needs because it did not foresee how badly prices would drop.

We have moved through myriad programs over the years, and now we have come to GRIP and NISA. I am sure I could spend a lot more time than I have available today talking about all the problems that have developed with GRIP and NISA. Actually NISA is the one program that has been a relatively bright light in the darkness of government programs.

Despite all the problems with the programs that have been created in the past, we still talk about being proactive and co-operating with farm groups and farmers. The discussion seems to centre around which commodities to include in new programs on the horizon to replace GRIP and NISA.

As mentioned by my colleague earlier, Reform suggests a different route. It suggests elimination of the present farm support programs and instead the diverting of funds into basically three separate programs. The trade distortion adjustment program is an all-sector program, an all-inclusive program designed to address some of the concerns of my hon. colleague

across the way and what is going to be facing the supply management sector and other sectors.

We talk about a program specifically designed to offset foreign intervention and foreign competition through unfair subsidies our foreign competitors might be granted that we in this country do not have. We talk about other areas. As I have said, NISA has been a relatively successful program. We talk about making it more inclusive and making it applicable to all sectors of agriculture rather than just the grain sector.

We would continue to require crop insurance to offset the elements, the natural disasters that always occur and that farmers must be protected against. That briefly outlines my past history and what I say our government must move toward in relation to farm safety net programs.

Agriculture
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member for Prince George-Peace River talked about the Reform agricultural policy. He also talked about the elimination of farm support programs.

Could he be a little more specific so that we on this side would have the benefit of knowing what farm support programs that are in place now he wants to eliminate? Could he give the specifics on that?

Agriculture
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague on the other side of the House for his comments and question.

There are a number of programs. The two I specifically referred to were the gross revenue insurance program and the Net Income Stabilization Act. There is also the feed freight assistance program that we talked about. My colleague referred earlier to western grain transportation. There are a number of programs for livestock, feed development initiatives, and economic and regional development agreements. A wide range of programs are presently in place.

Rather than having all the specific programs that actually end up distorting one sector of agriculture to the detriment of another, Reform is suggesting that we should be looking at the whole farm approach to protect farmers regardless of whether they are producing chickens, grain, milk or whatnot. We have to protect all farmers in all sectors against unfair foreign practices. To do so we need to move toward all farm and all sector programs with both our trade adjustment distortion program and our new income stabilization program, which would be an enhanced NISA and applicable to all sectors instead of only the ones it currently covers.

Agriculture
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5) the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Canadian Military Heritage Museum
Statements By Members

May 10th, 1994 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Stewart Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in the opening of the Canadian Military Heritage Museum in the city of Brantford, Ontario.

In the words of the board members, Canada's military heritage collections are part of the history of all Canadians. The story of our military past should be understood and made meaningful to all Canadians, many of whom have had no direct experience of war or the part played by conflict in Canada's history.

The museum is a wonderful museum. It has displays of original armaments, vehicles and uniforms from Canada's earliest conflicts right to the present. Most striking are the pictures that depict Canadian men and women in the heat of battle.

I would like to congratulate those who have made the museum a reality and invite all Canadians to Brantford to share in the Canadian Military Heritage Museum.

The Environment
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Deshaies Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the green revolution launched by Horne, a copper smelting operation in Noranda, is worthy of note today since it stands as proof that a mining company can conduct its operations without polluting the environment.

The company derives no less than 15 per cent of its supplies from various recycled products. More than 150 suppliers from around the world do business with Noranda. These include such well-known companies as IBM and Kodak.

In addition to making an economic contribution, Noranda enriches the quality of life in the community by making substantial grants to local agencies.

The technology employed at the Horne smelter goes far beyond our borders. Agreements for the export of continuous smelting technology have been concluded with China, allowing the Horne smelter to make a name for itself in terms of its technology, productivity and concern for the environment.

Grain Transportation
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, the joint subcommittee of agriculture and transport has been dealing with the crisis in grain movement in Canada. The testimony of these meetings clearly demonstrates there are too many uncoordinated and overlapping government organizations attempting to control and regulate grain movement.

There is no clear authority. One organization often interferes with the actions of another. This has led to a transportation and grain handling industry which has failed miserably. This is unfair to Canadian farmers.

Reform agriculture policy has always recognized the need for a less regulated industry and the evidence supports our position. The government must back off. We must allow farmers to control the system they pay for and which exists to serve them.

It is my sincerest hope that this government will recognize the need for less government regulation and for a more market driven grain transportation industry.

Mining Industry
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, May 14 to 20 is mining week in Ontario. The mining industry has been and continues to be the cornerstone of our economy, representing 16.2 per cent of total exports.

I wholeheartedly support the "Keep Mining in Canada" campaign and the Save Our North organization which have been actively working to keep mining alive and well in this country.

As the member of Parliament for Timiskaming-French River, as a northern Ontario MP and as a member of the natural resources committee, I have been working and will continue to work to raise the profile of our Canadian mining industry and to push for mining incentives for exploration and development in Canada, especially in northern Ontario.

On behalf of all members of this House, I wish to extend my best wishes to the mining industry, to the over 100 mining communities across Canada, and to all Canadian miners and their families for a very successful mining week.

Killer Cards
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of myself and the many constituents who have petitioned this House, I congratulate the Minister of Justice for bringing forth draft amendments to the Criminal Code and the Customs Tariff Act.

These draft amendments would restrict the sale and distribution of serial killer cards and board games. We do not need products which commercialize and glorify violent crime. There is too much violent crime as witnessed by my constituents in the village of Clifford in the senseless shooting of Joan Heimbecker.

I trust that members from all sides on the justice committee will work co-operatively to achieve the restriction of these offensive products.

South Africa
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Réginald Bélair Cochrane—Superior, ON

Mr. Speaker, May 10, 1994 is a day that will go down in the history of South Africa. The swearing-in of newly-elected President Nelson Mandela marks the beginning of a new era of growth, common vision and national reconciliation.

Having witnessed the birth of a democratic nation, I was pleased to see that the Black majority was able to express itself freely, with pride and tolerance and without fear of reprisals.

With all communities working closely together in the fields of education and government, the new South Africa will become a model to be emulated by others.

The black majority's dream has been realized through Nelson Mandela's vision for a new South Africa in which a government represents all South Africans through a spirit of co-operation and peaceful coexistence.

This era of rebirth for South Africa will set an example for all African countries to strive to offer every citizen, regardless of tribal affiliation or racial association, hope for their future generations.

Women Refugees
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a study conducted by Florida State University, women and children account for between 75 per cent and 85 per cent of the world's refugees.

However, in the past ten years, one and a half times more men than women have been admitted into Canada as refugees.

Furthermore, the refugee selection process applied at offices located abroad is also biased against women. Indeed, women living in refugee camps must demonstrate their potential to integrate the country in question. Considering that in many

countries, women receive less formal education than men, they are less likely to satisfy admissibility criteria.

It is time that we denounce this situation on behalf of all those seeking refuge in countries that respect human rights.

Young Offenders Act
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, about one hour ago in my riding of Beaver River students and staff of J.A. Williams High School in Lac La Biche joined together to offer their sympathy to families that have lost loved ones at the hands of young offenders.

They joined to form a heart with the word yes underneath it; yes to major changes in the Young Offenders Act.

They are telling us it is not just the older generation that is concerned about youth violence, they are also concerned. They are puzzled as to why the identities of all young offenders are protected. What about the rights of citizens to be informed of potential dangers in their own neighbourhood? Young people who commit criminal acts must be held responsible. All Canadians are angry and frustrated at a court system that allows young criminals to thumb their noses at the law.

I congratulate the students at J.A. Williams High School for their initiative. We should listen to them and to millions of other Canadians. They are telling us loud and clear that yes, the Young Offenders Act needs reform. The government must act now.

Communications
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the constituents of London-Middlesex believe that communication is a vital link in the development of a unified community.

In 1993 a large area of land including the village of Lambeth was annexed to the city of London. Lambeth is now part of London and as such receives most of the same services and utilities as the residents of London.

There is one exception. That is that Lambeth residents are subject to long distance telephone rates when calling surrounding communities.

The community of Lambeth has a strong social and commercial dependency with neighbouring exchanges. It does not seem fair or equitable that Lambeth residents do not receive extended area service in the same manner as other London residents.

An overwhelming number of my constituents are in support of the CRTC providing extended area service to the Lambeth telephone exchange. On their behalf I ask that the government consider this unique situation which would go a long way in improving our vital community communication links.

Killer Cards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Iftody Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to address the issue of serial killer cards and games.

It is particularly troubling and indeed perverse to think that someone is profiting from the depiction of such horrific murders which serve to deviously corrupt our young people and attack our basic values of respect for life.

I applaud the Minister of Justice for introducing draft legislation banning the sale of such cards and games. He is leading the way to a more decent and respectful society.

I would encourage members of the justice committee who must now work at ways to refine and strengthen the legislation to follow through with firmness and determination. Let us put an end to this new form of obscenity and hate.

Government Services
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a matter of great concern to the electorate. That is the quality of service that is delivered to the taxpayers by government.

Many of our civil servants are hard working, dedicated people. However, I have discovered many incidents of poor attitude and indeed the inability to deliver personal services in many departments of government.

A recent freeze on public sector wages has been imposed on government employees. This freeze is, at the choice of the public service, being borne by the junior employees; that is to say incremental increases have been curtailed. As a consequence the freeze on mid-line management is minimal as it would only forgo modest cost of living increases.

As it is generally the more junior ranks that deal with the public, I fear that this policy will further erode motivation and reduce service. This is occurring at a time when the private sector is embracing concepts like total quality management.

I believe that it is time the public sector did the same.