House of Commons Hansard #37 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, once again we see an attitude from the Reform Party that is very much in line with the current government. It singles out one region of the country and pits it against another region.

We have seen the emperor's new clothes in the form of Mr. Manning and Mr. Chrétien when it comes to this type of thing. They want to take the divisive approach. They want to take the approach that is very provocative.

Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I realize that you were engaged in a conversation, but you missed something. The hon. member from the PC Party is blatantly breaking House rules in debate by using members' names. I think you should correct him on that.

Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The Chair accepts the point made by the hon. member for Elk Island. I am sure that the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough in no way would want willingly to break the traditions and the customs of the House.

Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough on a very timely and well delivered speech.

While many Canadians prepare to celebrate the holiday season, many others are worried that any kind of celebration will be short lived if they do not see any kind of financial assistance soon from the federal government. I am referring to Canadian farmers who in some instances have been suffering through the most serious farm crisis since the Great Depression.

The sad fact is that the Liberal government fails to recognize the severity of the situation throughout Canada's farming communities. Since being elected in 1993 the Liberal government has consistently ignored the plight of our farmers. From what our farmers can see from the government's estimates, this neglect is bound to continue.

Farm support since 1993 has been reduced by approximately $3 billion. We are talking about federal-provincial contributions that once exceeded $7 billion which have been reduced to under $4 billion. This is a very significant decrease at a time when our Canadian farmers are facing increased subsidized competition, rising input costs and natural and economic disasters. Now our federal government wants to add Canada's inadequate national safety net program to their misery.

The government continuously preaches about the importance of our agricultural industry, yet its inaction in a time of crisis suggests a clear lack of commitment toward our Canadian farmers. In response to the crisis in the agricultural industry the government has introduced a farm aid package that has been thoroughly criticized for being inadequate. Even members from the minister's own governing party are lamenting about the inadequacy of the government's AIDA program. This is the program that was going to provide farmers with $1.1 billion in aid but has thus far only delivered $300 million in much needed assistance.

The minister has promised that all the money will be in the hands of our farmers by Christmas. I would like to tell the minister that Christmas is fast approaching, as is bankruptcy for many farmers unless money arrives soon.

The government has designed a program that is a regulatory nightmare. Many Canadian farmers who need the help the most are falling through the cracks. The AIDA program was ill designed and totally underfunded. Even provinces such as Ontario and Saskatchewan are threatening to pull out of the federal safety net program because they recognize that the government is not truly committed to helping our Canadian farmers.

On November 22 I read a very disturbing article in one of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, the Halifax Herald . The article was entitled “Quebec farm suicides lead country”. Any suicide is tragic but to have specific numbers for our farming community simply magnifies the crisis situation our Canadian farmers are facing each day due to mounting debt. I recognize that this Queen's University data is somewhat dated, however it does magnify the tragedy our farmers are facing due to the extreme financial pressure often associated with the agricultural industry.

Agriculture is one of Canada's top five industries. However by the actions of the federal government we would think that this important industry is of very little benefit to Canada's overall economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. In 1998 alone, our agriculture and agri-food industries contributed over $90 billion to our overall economy. That is equivalent to 8.6% of Canada's gross domestic product. Our overall agri-food exports exceed $22 billion and are responsible for 30% of Canada's total trade surplus. These are impressive figures, however behind these impressive figures lies much anxiety and heartache.

Perhaps blinded by some of these impressive numbers, our federal government appears incognizant of the growing threat to our agricultural industry. Each and every day Canada is facing the loss of another farmer. We are losing these farmers because the government has failed to come up with any long term solution to the problems facing this vital industry.

In Nova Scotia alone, well over 1,000 farms have disappeared since 1981. That is an average of 69 unreplaced farm closures across the province every year. Nova Scotia's youth increasingly choose other careers rather than farming because they sense that there is no future for them in this industry. They recognize that their federal government will not be there to help them in a time of crisis such as we are witnessing today.

Nova Scotia's farming industry is increasingly in danger of eventually becoming irrelevant. This would be a tremendous blow to an area that has prided itself on its agricultural prowess since as far back as the beginning of the 17th century when the first European settlers arrived in the Annapolis Valley. What is particularly frightening in Nova Scotia is the fact that 42% of our farm operators in 1996 were over the age of 55. The average age of farmers in Nova Scotia is 52.2 years. Our farmers are slowly getting older and there is no indication that our youth will be willing to carry the torch in any significant manner come the new millennium.

The government should be encouraging our youth to embark on a career in agriculture. Yet by the proposed estimates the government has introduced concerning agriculture, any future young farmers and I see that the government has very little interest in encouraging our farming tradition that spans back centuries.

Already we see a considerable number of our farmers being forced to rely on outside employment to subsidize their farming income. Because they are forced to pursue other employment opportunities to survive, many of them fail to qualify for government tax incentives that would offer them some relief on an already enormous debt load.

Members of the Progressive Conservative Party recognize that we can ill afford to lose any more of our farmers. With less than 7% of our land being currently used for agriculture, Canadians are becoming increasingly dependent upon foreign imports.

Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I request the forbearance of the member for West Nova. We are getting very close to the time for Statements by Members. If we interrupt now, the member for West Nova will have three minutes to conclude his thoughts before questions and comments after Oral Question Period and Routine Proceedings.

The House will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Conestoga College
Statements By Members

December 10th, 1999 / 10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, Conestoga College, the number one rated community college in Ontario and the city of Waterloo this week announced that they are in negotiations to build a new college campus on city owned land in northeastern Waterloo.

The partnership between the college and the city will offer students access to athletic and recreation facilities, opportunities for specialized educational programs, co-operative education placement opportunities and shared parking.

This partnership will strengthen Waterloo's reputation as a centre of excellence for higher education. It will provide a complementary educational facility for the high tech business community and a new upgraded nursing school. It will also serve as a potential site for a branch library, employment opportunities and economic spin-offs from housing and spending by 2,000 new students.

This is great news for my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo, Ontario and Canada.

I congratulate the city of Waterloo and Conestoga College for a new exciting educational project for the new millennium.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday of this week the agriculture committee was in my riding of Prince Albert. Requests for the agriculture committee to hold more hearings in January were refused and motions for the committee to hear more primary producers were refused.

The agriculture committee had no problem hearing from the same lobby groups twice, once in Ottawa and again in my city of Prince Albert. Then the committee went on to listen to only eight farmers, giving them each less than 10 minutes.

The official opposition has sent its own committee to hear farmers even during January. It will be this party's committee that will be hearing from farmers long after the Liberals have packed up and gone home.

It was evident this week both in this House and out in committee that the government is not interested in the problems of the people nor in the will of the people.

British Columbia
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration recently visited Vancouver, British Columbia. I had the opportunity to organize an informal round table with 30 community leaders to meet with her. This forum gave my constituents and British Columbians an opportunity to raise issues and concerns to the minister that are important for the entire community and Canada.

I would like to thank the minister for lending her time to these important community discussions in Vancouver. We can now incorporate some of the citizens' ideas to the planning of new policy.

Oak Ridges Moraine
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of parliament for Oak Ridges, I would like to take this opportunity before the House rises to thank several people for their interest in my riding's namesake, the Oak Ridges moraine. It is a 160 kilometre stretch of rolling hills that acts as a giant sponge. It absorbs, filters and releases water and acts as the headwaters for over 30 rivers. It is the home to wildlife and rare species of plants and is a treasure in the greater Toronto area.

At the same time, it is under severe development pressures, which can see a great portion of the moraine paved over with little idea of the effect it would have.

So a big thank you to my colleagues in the GTA, in particular the member for Davenport for his statement and the member for Victoria, the Minister of the Environment, all those who attended the clean water summit of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust which focused on the moraine, the Geological Survey of Canada, and especially all the members of grassroots organizations who have given a great amount of time and energy to make sure that we recognize the importance of the Oak Ridges moraine.

Hazardous Waste
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada reports that the amount of industrial hazardous waste, including cancer-causing chemicals, being dumped into Ontario's sewers is increasing. It is now five times greater than all the other provinces and territories combined.

The latest figures also indicate that the amount of industrial pollution that went directly into air, water and landfill sites in Ontario increased to 63,000 tonnes in 1997.

The Government of Ontario says that these figures reflect better reporting by company officials. Surely the citizens of Ontario deserve a provincial government whose aim is to reduce the toxic product rather than just reflect on the reporting process.

Equality
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, in November over 1,000 Canadians gathered on Parliament Hill to voice concern for their legislated loss of equal rights in Quebec.

Together, they brought a petition of over 16,000 persons asking our government to affirm that all Canadians are equal under all circumstances and without exception in the province of Quebec and throughout Canada. They wished to remind Canada's government to only enact legislation that would affirm the equality of every individual under the laws of Canada.

Today in Canada, we see equality once again being legislatively degraded in the Nisga'a treaty. Equality in Canada is paramount to our freedoms. Special status for some over others is regressive. We must stand up together to reaffirm equal rights for all. We must not enact legislated segregation for any group in Canada. Equality—

Equality
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Haliburton—Victoria—Brock.

House Of Commons
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a very historic week in parliament where Tuesday became Wednesday and Wednesday became Thursday. Now here we are on Friday and I am glad to see the table has changed.

Voting took place in here for some 43 hours. People talked about a waste of time and money, but I want to talk about the thanks that should be given to the staff, in particular to the pages, the clerks, the bus drivers, the security, the table officers, the Hansard staff, the sound and TV people, and in particular the cleaning staff who made such a fabulous job of cleaning up after our sitting for some 43 hours and voting.

Let us take the time to thank the people who support us here and my thanks on behalf of Haliburton—Victoria—Brock.

Human Rights Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has proclaimed December 10 Human Rights Day.

In honour of this, the international centre for human rights and democratic development is today awarding the 1999 John Humphrey freedom award to two Burmese activists. Cynthia Maung is a doctor who treats Burmese refugees in Thailand and Min Ko Naing is a student leader imprisoned for his activities.

On behalf of all Bloc Quebecois members, I congratulate the two recipients and encourage them to carry on the fight to reinstate human rights in Burma.

The imprisonment of 150 Burmese democratically elected representatives since 1998 speaks very clearly of the state of human rights in that country.

There is a long way to go before a stop is put to the repression and political coercion visited on the people of this planet. This Human Rights Day gives us the opportunity to renew our firm commitment to ensuring equality for all and the right to freedom.

Farming Industry
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, last Monday I had the opportunity to meet with a group of farmers in the lovely town of Melita, Manitoba. This town, in the southwest corner of the province of Manitoba, is located in the centre of the area that bore the brunt of last year's high water.

The farmers I met with were representative of the area's best. Smart and industrious, these farmers are successful in a very difficult industry. The product of their labour contributes strongly to Canada's exports and is the foundation upon which a number of other industries run.

This year they have suffered two blows. The flooding of international markets with low priced goods has reduced their returns from their labour. The flooding of their land has made it impossible to plant much of the available acreage. They made the point to me that farming is a very difficult business subject to the vagaries of weather, disease, insects, drought one year, flood the next. These are the norms of the industry and they accept that. They know that there will be good years and bad years.

Now, however, a new blight has emerged, one which they cannot fight alone and one which will overwhelm them if we do not offer some support. The blight is the subsidies that are given to farmers in the U.S. and Europe. Eighty percent of our farmers sell their goods in international markets and these subsidies cause—