House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) of the sums required for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, was presented by the hon. President of Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 45th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of the committees, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114.

Canada Marriage Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-450, an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act in order to protect the legal definition of “marriage” by invoking section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this bill, which would protect the legal definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman by invoking the constitutional notwithstanding clause.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River for seconding the bill and note for the record that I offered the Canadian Alliance the opportunity to second the bill and it declined based on an order from its leader. Not only did he once again act as a dictator, he is a duplicitous hypocrite.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Marriage Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member knows that in making a statement on the introduction of a bill he is to constrain himself and give a brief explanation of the purpose of the bill. Going beyond that I feel is unnecessary; I am sure the hon. member would not want to overstep the bounds of propriety in the House.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House to present a petition from members of my constituency, 125 of them, who call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and present a petition on behalf of constituents in Prince George--Peace River, notably from the rural areas of Cecil Lake and Buick and the communities of Mackenzie and Chetwynd and the city of Prince George.

These constituents would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the creation and use of child pornography is condemned by a clear majority of Canadians. They believe that the Liberal bill, Bill C-20, does not adequately protect our nation's children. They believe that the Liberal government has not prevented artistic merit from being used as a defence for the production and possession of child pornography. Therefore they call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials that promote or glorify child pornography are outlawed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this morning to present three petitions on behalf of the people of Dauphin—Swan River.

The first petition deals with the issue of unlimited net fishing by aboriginals from Lake of the Prairies in Manitoba. The petitioners call on Parliament to enforce the laws of Canada so that those who are taking advantage of their status and who breach federal laws are held accountable for their actions and they say that Canada needs a single justice system for all its citizens.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition states that the national parks are a Canadian institution. The petitioners request Parliament to reduce national park fees and camping fees.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the last petition talks about the elk herd in Riding Mountain National Park, which is infected with bovine TB. The disease is being spread to surrounding cattle herds and zoning has been imposed in Manitoba. The petitioners call upon Parliament to request that Parks Canada take immediate action to save the elk herd and protect the surrounding livestock and wildlife by eliminating the disease within the elk herd.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

September 23rd, 2003 / 10:10 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Middlesex, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister should convene and lead a multi-party delegation including representatives of the industry to Washington at the earliest possible date to discuss with officials of the Congress and the Government of the United States all possible means to fully reopen the U.S. border to shipments of Canadian livestock.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time this morning with my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River.

I think it is very unfortunate that I feel compelled to rise today to speak on this motion, a motion that surrounds a situation of tremendous importance to Canadians. I should not have to and the fact that I do is very unfortunate indeed.

Currently Canada is suffering from a major crisis in our agriculture community. Farmers, some of them fourth and fifth generation, some of them in my riding of Perth—Middlesex, many of whom I consider friends, are facing financial ruin, too many of them. At kitchen tables and at county fairs, these hard-working and proud people are telling me that they may not be able to get past this issue.

We have a disaster on our hands in Canadian agriculture. As if disasters are not bad enough, we also have a government that is not willing to take the appropriate steps necessary to help address this issue.

But the Liberal government does not take that action because the country is also suffering another crisis: a profound crisis in leadership. Instead of proactively addressing the challenges facing Canadian farmers, the Liberals choose to concern themselves with waging internal party battles, settling old scores and placing their interests within the Liberal Party of Canada ahead of the best interests of the nation.

The Prime Minister chooses to focus on legacy issues like same sex marriage and Liberal leadership, and stories regarding the shadow prime minister headline the front page of the major dailies across the countries. The media all too often, it seems to me, get caught up spending most of their time on these issues. Unite the right is another example, Mr. Speaker, and please forgive me for this as I am not a journalist, but it seems to me the issue of this crisis in Canadian agriculture has virtually been ignored as the Prime Minister and the media focus on other issues, issues that it seems to me are of far less importance than the decimation of a domestic industry, and more than an industry, a way of life that the country was built upon. This issue promises to ruin lives, tear apart homes and throw small communities in rural Canada into economic chaos.

Instead of opening a dialogue with our friends and neighbours in the United States, the Prime Minister has elected to mock them with disdain and scorn. Just yesterday the Prime Minister went to New York to the UN and took cheap shots and lobbed thinly veiled attacks at our American friends. Such actions do not go unnoticed by the powers that be in Washington, D.C.

While the Liberals play these games, it seems the same cannot be said of my colleagues in the caucus of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Our leader, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, has been out in front on this very important issue like a true leader, championing this cause.

I want to thank my friend, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, for pointing out in the House on numerous occasions how the Liberal government has chosen to ignore this crisis and, in doing so, how our Prime Minister and his cabinet have elected to take the path of least resistance and abandon Canadian farmers, abandoning the very people who entrusted them with the authority to govern their lives.

I also want to acknowledge several of my hard-working colleagues in the Alliance, NDP and Bloc, who have tried to shame the government into action. There are also several Liberal members who have shown courage in trying to convince their masters in cabinet to do the right thing and help Canadian farmers.

Sadly, because of the pattern of Liberal government inaction on this issue, those fourth and fifth generation farms I mentioned earlier are unlikely to produce fifth and sixth generation farms.

It has taken 100 years or more to build a proud, vibrant, Canadian agricultural industry and it is likely the history books will one day report that it took the Liberal government about a decade to completely destroy all the hard work; all that Canadian innovation, determination and perseverance under some of the harshest conditions faced by any people anywhere in the world. This looks to be the legacy of our two current Prime Ministers, who may be trying to distance themselves from each other now but who have walked hand in hand down the aisle of Canadian economic disaster orchestrating their ill-advised policy decisions as the Bobbsey Twins of grit governments.

It is sad, terribly sad.

All we hear about lately is our Prime Minister. I apologize to my colleagues and to you, Mr. Speaker. I need to clarify that remark. I am now talking specifically about the Prime Minister who is currently living at 24 Sussex. All we hear about is his concern over his legacy. If things continue down the same path his legacy will be the elimination of the family farm in Canada and, considering our state of relations with the United States, perhaps an end to Canada's positive balance of trade with the Americans.

What of the concern for the humble farmer in rural Canada who wishes only the legacy of one day turning his family farm over to his son or daughter?

As a small business person I can tell members firsthand how important it is to have good relations with one's best customers. I can say with total certainty how important it is to do business with people who have money. The Americans are great customers and they are wonderful friends. They also have wants and needs for which they can pay. They not only pay their bills on time but they have a history of bargaining in good faith with Canadians; good faith that sadly the Liberal government has not shown toward our American friends during debates over recent foreign policy issues.

Those are issues that have witnessed Canada abandoning our traditional allies, allies like the U.K., Australia and, yes, the United States, and seeing Canada aligning ourselves with nations like Russia, France and China.

At least the current Liberal regime shows some consistency. It has taken a prosperous cattle industry, which has taken 100 years to develop, and promptly set to work destroying it within the timeframe of about a decade. It then takes over 100 years of noble Canadian diplomatic tradition and completely rearranges our strategic international alliances.

Alas, an examination of the last decade shows that the current Liberal government has not been treating the Americans like good customers and best friends.

One would think that with two Prime Ministers currently, one of them could find time between fundraisers for the Liberal Party of Canada to lead a delegation of top level political, diplomatic and industrial officials to Washington, D.C. to sit around a table with Americans and talk through some of these issues. Is that unreasonable? Roughly 85% of our exports wind up in the United States, paid for by valuable American greenbacks. What could possibly be of more importance than insuring the maintenance of a strong relationship with the Americans?

After spending time working on this abroad I can tell the House that our counterparts in the U.S. congress echoed many of the concerns I have raised here in the House today. When I asked one congressman about opening the U.S. border to Canadian beef he said “If we make an error, is it not safer for us to err on the side of caution?”

I appeal to the sense of fairness and decency I truly believe exists within the hon. members of the House. I appeal to my colleagues to do the right thing and to take action at the highest diplomatic levels, to travel to Washington, D.C. to engage our most important trading partner, most reliable ally and, frankly speaking, our best friend so we may sort this out and save the livelihood of Canadian farmers.

Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I see other people want to ask my colleague from the Progressive Conservatives a question or make a comment on this important subject so I will try to keep my remarks brief.

I actually wrote down one of the things he said. I listened closely to his remarks and agree with the general thrust of his speech. He said that it was important to have good relations with one's best customers. That reminded of the comments made to me by one of my constituents this summer as I travelled around my huge northern British Columbia riding.

I was up at Fort Nelson, heading toward the Yukon, when I stopped in to visit a friend, Mr. Cliff Andrews, a guide and outfitter, who operates a small lodge at Tetsa River, north of Fort Nelson, with his wife Lori. Cliff said to me “Jay, I've got this pretty much figured out I think. Obviously when this started there was a mad cow. That was one incident that created the concern on the part of the Americans but that is not the reason this is continuing”.

He went on to say “Let me put it this way. Let's say you are a chicken farmer and your best customer lives across the road. Every morning you get out of bed, you go across the road and you kick him between the pockets. Then after a week or so you wonder why he does not buy your eggs any more”.

Mr. Andrews made a good point with his analogy. If the real people in the real world have it figured out, why have the Liberals not?

Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, being a small businessman I do understand what it takes to make a good relationship and carry on business. I have been involved in small business for over 40 years. Some of the remarks that were made to our friends and largest trading partner, the United States, have been less than likable. I know what I would have done had I been there. I would have shut the door too.

I do believe that as far as BSE is concerned we have had one mad cow. We do know that. However when the congressman told me that we should err on the side of caution, I think it was a very weak answer.

Most of us in this room fly every day. Far more people will die this year from airplane crashes than from catching mad cow disease from any meat that they have eaten, but do we fly? Yes, sir.

They are using this particular instance as a play. I think it is all political. They have been kicked and kicked and they are just showing us right now that they are not going to get kicked any more.

I appreciated being part of the parliamentary delegation at the WTO. I have touched some of those people. I know how hard it is to touch some of those people. That is why I am requesting help from someone even higher than the parliamentarians in here, and there is only one higher than them, the Prime Minister.