House of Commons Hansard #98 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wheat.

Topics

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member opposite. He spoke about the support the bill has from all of the different organizations. I believe he went on to list 12 organizations that had indicated support.

Would he also have enough confidence to seek direct support from producers by making it possible for them to say when they apply for a permit book whether or not they support this type of check-off? I suggest to the member opposite that although there is a lot of institutional support, these people may not speak for the majority of farmers. The fact that they have to continually reapply to get this check-off back if they do not support it is very cumbersome.

Let us give producers the option of indicating whether they support this when they apply for their permit book. Would he support that?

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, the key here-we have to take a look at what is being discussed in the bill-is the word voluntary. That is exactly what we are discussing here.

As a poultry producer, I have a lot of faith in my industry. I know what research and development means for the chicken industry. I hope that wheat and barley producers have that same commitment to their industry and that they want to put money into research and development.

In looking at research and development in this industry, if the researchers see they have the backing of the people who are involved in the industry itself, they will go a lot farther in the development of wheat and barley for the world market.

Let us face it. Canada is an exporting nation. If we have the best quality wheat and barley product to put forward on the world market, I know we can go farther. I will cite members an example in the chicken industry.

In the 1960s, it took us 14 to 16 weeks to produce a four-pound chicken and we said: "Wow, that is as far as we can go". I do it in 36 days now and through research and development, they are also talking about a 30-day chicken. Wheat and barley is no different.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act.

I commend the minister of agriculture for the work he is doing to improve the prospect of the Canadian farmer. My riding of Oxford has a large variety of agricultural production. The north end of the riding is dominated by livestock, mostly dairy. Just north of Woodstock is the Western Ontario Breeders Incorporated which collects, tests, stores and sells semen around the world for the artificial insemination of cattle. Toward the south end of the riding, we have a predominance of tobacco production. Over the past decade as tobacco has decreased, these producers have looked for alternative crops to grow on the sandy soil of the tobacco belt.

We have found that not many crops are successfully grown in this soil. As one moves throughout tobacco areas, one can see the occasional farm growing ginseng or peanuts. However not all farmers can afford to make this change, nor can we have these markets flooded by new producers.

Another experimental crop which was successfully introduced this year on a limited acreage by Mr. Joe Strobel of Tillsonburg was hemp. This crop was harvested last month and will be used in the production of hemp clothing.

This is why this bill is important to my region. The provisions in the bill for research and development of new crops is good for all Canadian farmers. It is hoped that this research may even develop a new wheat or barley variety that could be successfully grown on lighter land such as that formerly used for tobacco.

We sometimes forget just how competitive the agricultural industry is world wide. With our shorter growing season in Canada, we must take full advantage of improvements in crop and livestock variety and quality in order to finish ahead of the competition.

If research can develop new and better crops that can be used for human and livestock consumption, then we can forge new markets around the world. These new markets will not only develop income for our farmers but will generate employment throughout Canada.

As this country has moved from a primarily agrarian economy to our present industrial and information age economy, we sometimes forget how important agriculture continues to be not only for the food it produces but for the jobs it creates. Jobs in our transportation networks, packing plants and food processing plants are all dependent on agriculture.

As every farmer knows, the greatest resource we have is the land. This land is a farmer's capital. It is our basic resource and our goal has to be to preserve the land and to make it as productive as possible. The research that is called for in this bill is good for all Canadian farmers.

I would like to address a few remarks to my hon. friends from Lethbridge and Peace River. I had the pleasure last week to sit with the advisory committee of the Canadian Wheat Board. This is an elected body of grain farmers from the various regions of the grain provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.

To a man these elected representatives supported the Canadian Wheat Board largely because of its success in marketing our grain and because of its pooled selling. There was some discussion about the possibility of some entrepreneurial ventures regarding barley. I am sure that will be discussed by the board. There are farmers elected who give input to this board. I was pleased to meet with them and to know that they were satisfied with what was being done.

When the bill becomes law we will be able to say to our farmers that we have passed a law that will improve the ability of the Canadian farmer to compete in international markets. This is a strong step forward for Canadian farmers and the Canadian agri-food industry as a whole.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Oxford, who represents his riding so well, just told us once again that he wishes western producers would pay 40 cents and 20 cents per metric tonne for R&D; he also expressed in the same breath the hope that tobacco producers who can no longer grow tobacco will benefit from research spin-offs.

I wonder whether the hon. member for Oxford is not a little dependent on Western producers for his region's development. If it is good for his region, he should urge his government to rack its brains to find a way to make everyone-or at least those who may eventually benefit from agricultural R&D-pay.

In addition, I would like to ask the hon. member for Oxford, who also seems very happy with the Canadian Wheat Board, to enumerate some improvements that would make the board more active, vigorous and democratic. I must tell you, Madam Speaker, that the Canadian Wheat Board is far from enjoying unanimous support in the west. Most producers want to keep it, but most of them also want the Canadian Wheat Board to make major changes, in particular at the senior management level.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. friend raises some interesting points. He might be encouraged to know that the wheat farmers of Oxford county and of other parts of Ontario are already paying a dollar a tonne into a fund for research.

Probably he is also aware that the Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers Marketing Board takes a certain amount from each pound of tobacco that is sold through their marketing agency. The money is used for exactly what he is concerned about,

research into varieties and improving the production of tobacco in Oxford, Norfolk and Elgin counties.

I am not sure that Frontenac is any closer to western Canada than Oxford. I am sure that all farmers are interested in maintaining the best possible production in all parts of the country. Research is essential.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, I was looking for question period. I thought I would get out of this before that started.

It is a privilege for me to address the bill and I am going to address it more or less in a way that a Reform farmer does, not a Reform politician.

I thank the hon. member for Malpeque for all the free publicity for Reform he is giving us. We really appreciate that. It is good advertising.

The spirit of Bill C-50 goes in the right direction. The spirit is good. The increase in private funding for research, pretty well every farmer supports. I am starting to wonder who drew up the bill. When I look at the body of the bill it looks very sick, very old and very decrepit. I do not think it is going to provide the incentive this money is supposed to give.

To me it looks like it must have been a Liberal lawyer drawing it up, not a Liberal farmer because I am sure some of the clauses would be different.

We take a look at clause 31(3) and all of a sudden I realize we have another agency. The agency is called the western research fund and if we look at the track record of federal agencies we know that they usually have deficits, not surpluses. When we look further on we will see that is exactly what the next clause says. It says the cost of collecting these moneys will be deducted from distributed moneys. What have we left over?

I am becoming very suspicious that there will not be very much money for research which we originally intended.

We go back down to the other clause, and all of a sudden we find out we have another fund, a reserve fund, more administration. How much cost is there going to be to the administration of this 20 cents a bushel levy? It does not end there.

Then we go to clause 33(2) and it says there will be provisions made that certain projects are not eligible for this funding and certain research projects that do not pertain to research on these products could be funded. There is no clear direction in the bill.

We go down further to clause 33(3) and we are talking of an annual report that will have to be made to the minister but there are no guidelines that say what kind of a report. It will be at the minister's discretion what kind of report. Is it going to be a report saying it is minus or plus? Or is it going to show us which projects were funded? Why is there no body to the bill? I want some body in the bill.

Then we go further down and we find the door is left wide open to whatever we can think of. If it is at the minister's discretion to call the report, why call for something when there are irregularities in it, especially if the government of that day would not like the irregularities.

Why not put out a bill that is simple and will direct these funds to the research that we want to target? It is very simple. As I mentioned the other day, give farmers the choice. In the next federal election the hon. member on the other side would be really provoked if he were forced to mark his ballot Reform and then ask for it back because he did not agree to vote for Reform. Let us try it and see what they will say. Maybe they all will vote Reform. Maybe it is going to be that impressive. If we want democracy let us have it everywhere.

I am not surprised, if I look at the bill, that we have problems in government. If bills about immigration and bills about law and justice are so vague and so unpredictable no wonder we have lawyers having the richest industry in the world today. To me as a farmer if I want to support something I want to have that right to say so. I do not want somebody to tell me you put this money in here and then if you have time, if you feel things are not right you can ask for it back. I want that money to go to research. That is why I suggest very strongly to the government, if it wants my support as a farmer, to give me that opportunity. I will guarantee that if farmers have that opportunity the government will get more money for check-off to research funding than it will otherwise.

I have another suggestion for the government. If we really want to co-operate in the House why not ask some of the Reform members on this side to help draft the bill because I know it can be improved. The intent is tremendous. We want to co-operate. It is always suggested that we do not want to co-operate. Any member on this side could draw up a bill that would direct that money specifically to the research that we wanted.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the comments of the member for Lisgar-Marquette. I guess that is about as far as we can say, that they were enjoyable.

I do want to point out to the member from the Reform Party that it keeps stressing that decisions like this by governments should be producer driven. There are already, as he and the Reform Party well know, 12 farm organizations and others requesting addition to the list. I do not really know what more they want than that type of thing. The legislation is producer driven and we as a government are responding to that at absolutely no taxpayer cost whatsoever other than providing a very efficient administrative process or availability to do so.

When I mention that it is clearly stated in the bill that Alberta barley producers will not be taking part. I would ask the member if he has any comments on the fact that since the Alberta barley growers through the Alberta barley commission have their own fund which they voluntarily submit money to, would he consider suggesting to the Alberta barley commission that it become part of this research situation?

When we look at the figures of the amount of money that the Alberta barley commission collects, it collects $1.11 million and spends $270,000 or 24 per cent of the amount of money that it collects on administration. When it is done through the Canadian Wheat Board it will cost 2 per cent.

Would the member for Lisgar-Marquette and his Reform Party colleagues consider suggesting to the Alberta barley producers who certainly want a good return on their dollar that it would be a much better return?

The Reform Party is always talking about administrative costs and wastes. We see 24 per cent used on administration and less than 50 per cent of what it collects used on research, market development, producer servicing and policy development. That same organization is sitting on an annual surplus of farmers' money that it is doing absolutely nothing with after having collected it of $295,839.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, I do not have all those figures available that readily. I do not know all the Alberta barley producers but I can guarantee the hon. member that if they are not paying their fair share in research, they will.

He says they have representation from all farmers and that the wheat board is doing such a fantastic job for farmers. I remind the hon. member that in 1993 after staff reductions, after tremendous cuts, salaries to the Canadian Wheat Board increased by $1.4 million.

Not only that, the advisory group spent $50,000 more on travel and sold 15 per cent less last week than the year before. They should not try to tell me that it is working for farmers. Last fall the wheat board and the provincial and federal governments told us there was no market for our tombstone wheat.

Farmers in southern Manitoba marketed that wheat within hours. My son sold his whole crop of wheat in four hours. There was a good market for it and a good price. They should not tell me that all farm organizations are always supporting farmers or doing the best job because I get a little riled up.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member for Lisgar-Marquette.

I am a farmer in the Canadian Wheat Board area. We have heard a number of speakers on the other side who are not in the Canadian Wheat Board area extolling the values of the Canadian Wheat Board. A lot of these people who have spoken earlier belong to an area called the Ontario Wheat Board in which the directors are elected rather than appointed as with the Canadian Wheat Board. Does the member for Lisgar-Marquette agree that the Ontario Wheat Board model of an elected body rather than appointed is better than the current one we have at the Canadian Wheat Board?

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that question. If I read the Liberal red book on the fairness it is portraying that everybody will get under that government, I am sure the Liberals are going to give the western Canadian farmers that privilege to elect their wheat board just like they do in Ontario. If that is the case I applaud them for doing it. It shows democracy in real style, not democracy by region.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

Department Of Natural Resources Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Natural Resources

moved that Bill C-48, an act to establish the Department of Natural Resources and to amend related acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on second reading of Bill C-48, an act to establish the Department of Natural Resources and to amend other related acts.

I would like to take this opportunity to describe to my colleagues and all Canadians how this bill is consistent with this government's agenda for Canada's natural resource sector.

As well I will describe the importance of the natural resource sector to Canada's economic strength and job creation and the role of my department to ensure that the natural resource sector continues to be a cornerstone of our economy, of employment and of Canada's progress toward sustainable development.

Bill C-48 will establish the Department of Natural Resources under one act. At the present time authorities for the minister and the department are set out in two acts, the Department of Forestry Act and the Department of Energy, Mines and Re-

sources Act. According to the bill natural resources incorporate all of the resources covered in the two departmental acts. Specifically, these resources are mines, minerals and other non-renewable resources, energy and forest resources.

While we recognize the provincial responsibility for the management of natural resources in Canada, the federal government has the responsibility in partnership with the provinces to maintain and enhance the contribution of the natural resource sector to our economic growth and job creation.

In essence, Bill C-48 provides a legal framework for the federal Department of Natural Resources to provide a national perspective on mining, energy and forestry issues and to provide leading edge expertise in research and development to help the natural resource sector meet current and future challenges.

One of those challenges is Canada's progress toward sustainable development. Bill C-48 respects the federal government's commitment to encourage progress toward sustainable development.

For example, the bill states that to carry out the minister's assigned powers, duties and functions the Minister of Natural Resources is required to have regard to the integrated management and sustainable development of Canada's natural resources. While this requirement is contained in the present Department of Forestry Act there is no such reference in the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources Act. This provision will now be clearly stated and applied to all natural resources.

Canada's natural resource industries are not sunset industries. Let me make that point today very emphatically. These industries provide a major portion of Canada's gross domestic product. For example, in 1992 the value of energy, forestry, mineral and metal production totalled $69 billion or 14 per cent of our GDP. In 1992 net trade in energy, mineral and forest products amounted to $40.5 billion and provided much of the basis for Canada's $15 billion trade surplus.

One in every 13 members of Canada's workforce is employed in the energy, forest and mining sectors in all regions of this country. In fact natural resource activity provides the economic backbone for over 500 Canadian communities, many of them in remote areas.

As well, our natural resource industries are high tech industries. Canada is a world leader in the development and application of technology to improve productivity and competitiveness of our mining, forestry and energy industries. This effort to develop new technology has resulted in the emergence of new industries and therefore new jobs.

For example, Canada's requirements for accurate information about our resources has stimulated a new industry known as geomatics. This high potential, $1.3 billion industry employs over 12,000 Canadians. Furthermore Canada's geomatics industry contributes $100 million a year in exports.

Economic challenges face Canada's natural resource industries. Improved productivity and efficiency are essential to our country's ability to remain competitive in the natural resource sector. However the environmental challenges facing the sector are equally important. As a result, I believe that Natural Resources Canada will be a vital bridge between industrial and environmental concerns as we move to meet the challenges of the future.

Fiscal restraint affects all orders of government in Canada. Therefore we must find new and innovative ways to work together. I believe that our ability to encourage the integration of economic and environmental demands will be enhanced through co-operative ventures and partnerships which involve all stakeholders.

Throughout the years the department's research and technology expertise has built a solid reputation throughout the world. Its work has been geared to improving resource sector competitiveness and environmental performance. Natural Resource Canada's scientific and technological expertise has focused on all aspects of natural resource management.

For example, in forest management the Canada forest accord and its action plan, the national forest strategy, represent a commitment to sustainable forest development in the country. Through partnerships between federal and provincial governments, environmental and aboriginal groups and other forest users, we are working together to test and apply new approaches to manage forests as ecosystems.

Our mining industry is always moving forward, searching for innovations to become even more efficient and more competitive. As a result, the mining sector has one of the highest productivity levels in the world. The department's science and technology expertise has contributed to the development of many of these innovative processes. Many are linked to the challenge of meeting environmental concerns. Examples include acid mine drainage, effluents and promoting the use of metal recycling.

The energy sector will continue to be an important part of the department. There is no question that oil and gas development is important to sustain jobs and to Canada's overall economic strength. We are committed to market based principles. We are committed to sustainable development. Therefore we will work closely with industry, the provinces and others to harmonize economic and environmental goals.

Increased energy efficiency is widely recognized to have the greatest potential for short term contributions to our progress toward sustainable development. Moreover, energy efficiency can help Canada make a positive contribution to the government's goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy efficient technologies also contribute to wealth generation and job creation. Many companies and businesses have discovered that energy efficiency makes business sense. Innovative, made in Canada technologies for new products, processes, systems and services can also be exported to a rapidly expanding world market.

Natural Resources Canada will therefore continue to address the economic and environmental concerns of the natural resource sector. Canada will continue to lead and be a model in all aspects of natural resource management and use.

I will continue to work with the provinces, industry, environmental and aboriginal groups, and other stakeholders in the natural resource sector. The Department of Natural Resources will promote sustainable development practices and will apply its science and technological expertise to enhance our international trade, our competitiveness and the contribution by the natural resource sector to Canada's economic strength and job creation.

The bill will provide the Department of Natural Resources with the legal mandate and framework in which to deliver all these commitments as we move forward to the next century.

Department Of Natural Resources Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

René Canuel Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois and I understand full well that the purpose of this bill is to ratify what is already a fact; a pure formality, it seems. I dearly hope that our colleagues in the Liberal Party do not expect us to ratify this bill establishing the Department of Natural Resources.

It is easy for us to speak on the subject of natural resources. Quebecers elected us, members of a sovereignist party, both to defend Quebec's interests and to begin the dialogue with the rest of Canada in order to prepare Quebec's accession to sovereignty. It is essential for us to defend Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources. We would be acting contrary to our mandate and the will of those who elected us if we did not speak out against this bill.

All governments of Quebec have always demanded respect for provincial jurisdiction under the Canadian Constitution. The Constitution Act, 1982 describes provincial powers fairly precisely under section 92(a) with respect to the exploitation, conservation and management of forest resources, including the rate of primary production.

This position was maintained by the Government of Quebec when the former Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Sirros, said in the National Assembly on May 25 that the full authority of the Government of Quebec for managing natural resources on its territory-

Department Of Natural Resources Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. You can continue after question period, when we resume debate.

It being two o'clock, pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Helicopter Fleet
Statements By Members

September 27th, 1994 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the government took office 11 months ago it immediately took action to stop the waste of taxpayers' money. One of these actions was the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopters. These helicopters were the Lamborghinis of the helicopter world, sleek, fast and very expensive.

They were not what was needed to modernize our helicopter fleet at a reasonable cost. Notwithstanding the commitment to modernize our fleet is something that must be done and be done soon. The present Sea Kings have done a marvellous job over the past 30 years. They are, however, near the end of their life expectancy.

I ask that the government take a serious look at replacing our helicopter fleet with an appropriate made in Canada model reflecting our commitments to our armed forces as well as the Canadian aerospace industry, both of which are so important to the constituents of Erie.

Airport Facilities
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard St-Laurent Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport does not care about the problems of our regions. He suggests policies which will adversely affect transport in remote areas. As the national policy on airports is about to be implemented, his department keeps eliminating, arbitrarily, regional airport facilities.

Sept-Îles is the most important airport on the North Shore. The closing of the second of three runways creates additional risks in terms of safety, including for any airplane experiencing

problems. Moreover, this decision will reduce the exceptional potential of the airport facilities in Sept-Îles.

It is unacceptable that the streamlining policies of the Minister of Transport, who seems determined to stop the region's economic development, be once again implemented at the expense of regions.