House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member on his speech today. He is of course the member for Ottawa Centre and Ottawa has experienced tremendous economic activity in the last few years. I wonder if he would like to comment on and suggest how other areas of the country might try to emulate the success that Ottawa has had, particularly in the Kanata area with the high tech sector, and whether he would comment on what the innovation plans of the government would do to assist in that regard.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely true that this region has done miraculous things, one of which was dealing with the huge cuts to the public service. In excess of 40,000 people found themselves without jobs. On top of that, the economic situation overall was not that great.

In a matter of three to five years, things turned around in this region in an incredible way. This region is now not only the leading economic engine in this province and in this country, but will fairly soon lead any other city in North America and perhaps in the world in terms of economic activity.

I am proud and honoured to be a professional engineer by education and also a resident of this city that is so dynamic. I am so proud to be a representative of the riding of Ottawa Centre.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your guidance and your help this morning. As well, I acknowledge and thank my colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, who I will be splitting my time with today.

At this moment it is important that I express my sincere gratitude to the constituents of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, as they are the people who are responsible for me being in this wonderful House of Commons. My job as a member of parliament for my riding is that of a servant. I am very proud and humbled that they have chosen me to represent them. The people of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar put their faith in me and the Canadian Alliance Party that I represent. I know they want to see things done differently. I know they want their voices heard. I will do my very best to make sure that happens.

The constituency of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar is a beautiful part of Canada, a large rural riding with an urban component. Agriculture is of vital importance to the people of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, not only in the rural communities but also in the city of Saskatoon, where the spinoffs from the industry are prominent. It is very unfortunate that there was only a passing mention of Canada's agriculture industry in the throne speech. I find it hard to believe that an industry so important to our nation was not given more emphasis.

In the throne speech, the government says it will “help Canada's agricultural sector move beyond crisis management, leading to more genuine diversification and value-added growth, new investments and high standards of environmental stewardship and food safety”. I do not believe there are many members in the House that know more about agricultural diversification, value added growth and new investment in agriculture than I do. Perhaps that is why I find the Liberal government's flippant use of the words ringing hollow and so without meaning and true intent.

Under the Liberal government, the farming industry has been left in dire straits. Continuing international farm subsidies, thin trade negotiations, low commodity prices, government indecision, bureaucratic red tape and the gross inefficiency of farm income assistance programs have driven farm families across the country to desperation.

With all due respect, we have diversified. There is not one farm family I know of that has not moved from traditional grains to trying oilseeds and pulse crops. Some have developed community based investment options to diversify into seed production, seed cleaning or larger livestock operations. Farmers are turning grain land to grass and raising traditional livestock. Some are taking on huge debts to convert traditional livestock operations to specialty livestock. Others are experimenting with herbs, spices, vegetables and an assortment of other products that boggle the mind, anything to try to make ends meet and to diversify as their governments keep telling them they must.

There is not one farmer I know of who relishes the fact that he and his wife must work off the farm to keep the farm running. There is not one farmer I know of who likes going to farm rallies or who likes lobbying the government for help.

There is not one farmer I know of who watches sons or daughters leave the farm and is not literally heartbroken, just as my husband and I were when both our sons, their wives and our beautiful granddaughters left our farm and our small community for jobs in Regina and Edmonton because they could not make a living.

The government's loose use of catchphrases like diversification and value added is very convenient for its speech writers and bureaucrats, who cannot in a million years understand the situation on Canadian farms right now.

That is precisely why it is so disappointing, discouraging and infuriating for farm families to repeatedly be told by government that this is what they must do to survive in agriculture today. Yes, the agricultural industry is changing quickly, as is any other industry affected by our fast paced, technology reliant global economy, but do not tell us what we already know. Help us adapt, help us get there and help us continue to be the best food producers in the world.

In order for farmers to move past crisis management, the government must seriously and immediately deal with international agricultural subsidies. It has been all talk and no action from the Liberal government. While Canada has reduced agricultural subsidies, the American and European governments continue to subsidize their farmers at high levels. It is a simple case of competition, and we cannot compete.

International subsidies are crippling the agricultural industry in the country, and while the Liberal government took a tough stance to protect Quebec airplane manufacturer Bombardier from international subsidies, its stance to protect Canadian farmers against U.S. and European countries has been positively limp and lethargic.

I would like to believe that the weak mention of agriculture in the Speech from the Throne was an oversight by the Liberal government. It is a very sad situation if that is the case. However, it may very well be the start of a tough love demonstration promoted by the Prime Minister for western provinces. If that is the case, it is a demonstration that affects agricultural producers from our nation's eastern shores to the coast of British Columbia. It is an insult to the industry that built this country and that has fed our people, an industry that has fed the world and that needs our support.

I am committed to working on behalf of the agricultural community in my constituency and on behalf of all Canadian farmers. Before my term is up, I intend to make sure that each and every member of the House understands the importance of agriculture to the economic and social fabric of our country. The members of the House will be diversified right up to there.

If there has been one thing that has become clear to me since my decision to seek a position as a member of parliament, it is how important family is. There is nothing more precious to me than my own family. Since the election it has become increasingly obvious that my work on behalf of families in my constituency will be some of the most important work I do.

In my first few weeks on the job, I was approached by people with a variety of concerns: a woman in a situation of domestic violence who was dealing with the justice system; a couple who were not getting any answers from the AIDA program; and an elderly man who could no longer look after his ailing elderly wife in their home. There were others. The one thing all these people had in common was family, family members who were there trying to help them and support them through their problems.

What is so discouraging about the direction of the Liberal government over the last decade, and which continues to appear in the direction of this throne speech, is that it continues to put politics ahead of family. Families are forgotten. It does not matter what one considers: health care, where families cope with long surgical waiting lists; a mom who is a nurse and who is hardly home because of the tremendous numbers of shifts she works; financial issues, as families struggle to pay skyrocketing fuel bills; justice; child poverty; and agriculture.

Canadian families need our attention, especially the members of our family who have helped build this country. I especially look forward to spending time with and working for the senior citizens of my riding. They are special people who have contributed so much to building our communities, our province and our nation. They are our roots.

I want to recognize and pay special tribute to my mom, Irene Winacott, and to my mother-in-law and father-in-law, Roberta and Roland Skelton, for their love and their support. They are incredible people. The challenges they have faced in their lifetime were great and many, but they are wonderful examples of strength, grace and love.

I also want to thank my husband Noel for his patience, his whole-hearted support and his hard work, not only through the nomination process, the election campaign and consequently this new commitment, but for the last 36 years. I want to thank my children, my daughter Terri and sons Ted and Mark and their spouses, for being great cheerleaders, listeners and advisers. I want to thank my five beautiful granddaughters, Wendi, Tenille, Victoria, Shelby and Shae, for keeping me young.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for her first speech in the House of Commons. Beyond what she said, I also want to compliment her on the tone of what she said, because she is speaking as a true representative of her community. I hear an urgency in her voice in regard to what she is talking about, which is the plight of her community, especially of the farmers.

I have been around the House for long enough to know, and I have come to understand that when it comes to big government programs, the Liberals cannot manage. Yesterday we had the minister answering some questions in the House of Commons about farm aid. Basically he was saying that his hands are tied and that he is doing the best he can in spite of a bad situation. However, he did not offer any solutions or any hope of relief for desperate farmers.

Last week we had tractors on the Hill. That was a sign of desperation. We have an AIDA program and the government says that is its answer, but I want to ask my colleague this: what is the practical situation in the kitchens of some of these farmhouses across her riding? Of those who are expecting AIDA to help them, what is their situation?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is desperation at our kitchen tables in Saskatchewan. People need their money. We have people waiting who filed their AIDA forms last September. They have been told by the AIDA office that their forms will not be looked at—for the first time—until March. These people need their AIDA payments at this moment. We would like the Liberal government to make sure that this is done as soon as possible.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate the hon. member on her maiden speech.

As we look at agriculture and listen to her comments, we see that things are changing rapidly in agriculture. This year alone, some of the input costs have gone through the roof, such as fuel, energy and fertilizer costs. The costs for all of these things are going up and will further adversely affect farm operations.

Could the hon. member, as an active farmer, relate to the House and to Canadians some of the difficulties she and her farm family are facing due to this increase in expenses?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, we all know about the soaring price of natural gas. This immediately increases the cost of fertilizer. Any farmer who wants to get fertilizer is finding it very hard to obtain. We have fuel dealers who are on the verge of bankruptcy because their bills from last year have not been paid.

Farm families need immediate assistance. Unless assistance is given immediately, we will not have a crop put in this spring.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate the member from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, and I wish to ask her if she has the same theme in her part of the province: we lost a large number of students this year and that has effectively closed some of our schools. The number of young people leaving the rural areas is so large that in many areas the traditional curling teams and hockey teams are done for, probably forever. Is that true in the hon. member's community?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises an important issue. In rural Saskatchewan we have lost basically a whole generation of farm families. They have all moved away, either to the city or to another province, because there are no jobs available for them in the rural communities. We find that they are having trouble getting into technical schools to further their education because the seats are already spoken for. We are losing that whole generation of agricultural people in Saskatchewan.

Auditor General
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons, Volume III, dated December 2000.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e) this document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Charlie Grant
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I bring to your attention today the story of a great Canadian, a fine citizen of Thunder Bay and a very good friend.

Charlie Grant was born in Winnipeg in 1918. His first job was selling newspapers to help support his family. He married his childhood sweetheart, Dorothy, in 1943. They have 5 children and 12 grandchildren whom they love very deeply.

Charlie worked for the CPR and was transferred to Thunder Bay, thank goodness, in 1949. Every award that can be bestowed upon Charlie Grant by the city of Thunder Bay has been bestowed upon him. He was a builder of his church and was involved in little league baseball, the minor league hockey, Boy Scouts, Red Cross, United Way and so on. He was a teacher at Confederation College. When he retired he went into business for himself and now owns several travel agencies throughout Ontario. In his spare time he is up at 6 o'clock in the morning and finds his way home some time around 10 o'clock in the evening.

The real tribute to him is that like you, Mr. Speaker, in his spare time he reads Hansard . His motto in life is never retire. He is a wonderful person. I wish him luck.

Food Freedom Day
Statements By Members

February 6th, 2001 / 1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, today is Food Freedom Day, which means that it takes only 37 days for Canadians to earn enough money to pay for their food supply for an entire year. I salute the farmers who provide Canada with the safest, highest quality and most affordable food supply in the world.

However I must raise an important point: the increasing gap between what consumers pay and the money that actually reaches the farmer's pocket. Do we realize that by January 9 we have paid the farmer for a year's worth of food? Nine cents is all that a farmer receives from a $1.50 loaf of bread.

The agriculture industry is the third largest employer in Canada. When it is hurting, all of Canada is hurting. It saddens me to say that the only place there will be starvation this year is down on the family farm.

Farmers have built this country. Canada must not turn her back on them in their time of need. The government needs to recognize these facts and be willing to take some action.

Food Freedom Day
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, happy Food Freedom Day. It is like Tax Freedom Day except that it pertains to food. It is true that if we put 100% of our income toward our basic food requirements, today is the day that we would have our bill paid in full.

Oh happy day, unless one is a farmer. The portion of this bill that is paid to the farmers was paid way back on January 9. It is sad, is it not, that it takes us 37 days to pay our entire food bill and only 9 days to pay our farmers?

In last week's throne speech the Governor General stated that the government would help Canada's agriculture sector move beyond crisis management. I applaud her for that. I also applaud the Prime Minister for promising that the matter of high U.S. agricultural subsidies would be the first order of business when he meets with the U.S. president this month.

In the meantime our farmers need support that they can take to the bank. I am calling upon every member to support our primary producers with a lobby for cash. Let us make Food Freedom Day a celebration for everyone.

David Iftody
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Speller Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with shock and sadness that I stand today to extend my sympathy to his family and loved ones on the sudden death yesterday of our former colleague, David Iftody.

David was a good friend to many of us. As a former roommate of his, I knew how dedicated he was to his constituents, his province and his country.

He chaired and was an active member of the rural caucus and we fought many agricultural battles together. David was outspoken on behalf of the people of Provencher and we could always count on David to be in our corner when we needed support on rural issues.

David was a hard worker and a good parliamentarian and will be remembered for his positive outlook on life and his cheery smile to match.

On behalf of all his colleagues, I extend our sincere condolences to his family. David's voice and presence will be sorely missed in Manitoba and in the House.

Food Freedom Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is Food Freedom Day in Canada, as the annual food bill for consumers is paid in full. As of today Canadians have earned enough money to pay for their entire year's food supply, food which is the safest and most affordable in the world. It takes just 37 days for us to pay for our groceries. That is just 10% of our personal disposable income. In France, it is 13%, in Germany 15% and in Mexico 33%.

Our farmers are the most efficient and productive in the world, but while those who eat food celebrate today it is astonishing to note the date on which farmers get paid for all this food. It is January 9. It takes only nine days to pay farmers for a year's worth of food. Statistics Canada figures show that a waiter or waitress will make more on tips for serving the food than the farmer does for producing it in the first place.