Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Dauphin—Swan River (Manitoba)
Lost her last election, in 1997, with 20.75% of the vote.
Statements in the House
National Composting Awareness Week April 25th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, this week communities across Canada including my constituency of Dauphin-Swan River are involved in the celebrations of National Composting Awareness Week.
Local recycling programs have tremendous support. Organic waste represents 30 per cent to 50 per cent of Canada's total waste. It is imperative that greater attention be placed on diverting this valuable material to a more productive usage.
Reclaiming the organic waste from landfill by applying compost to our soil will result in many benefits including improved plant growth. No longer must organic waste be thought of as garbage but rather as a valuable renewable resource.
Small Business April 18th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, small business is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Canadian economy and women are leading the way.
This was recently demonstrated at a Small Business Info Fair which I hosted in my constituency of Dauphin-Swan River. I was pleased to see that so many of the participants were women entrepreneurs.
Did members know that women make up over one-third of independent business people in Canada, that Canadian women operate more than 700,000 firms employing 1.7 million Canadians and that half of women entrepreneurs started their businesses with less than $10,000?
I am proud of the opportunities that the Liberal government has given to small business owners. Congratulations to the women of Dauphin-Swan River who have used their pioneer spirit and followed their dreams to operate a small business.
Rural Canada April 8th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, small town Canada is on the move. Soon after we took office we took steps to make Canada's rural communities grow and prosper. This has greatly benefited my constituents of Dauphin-Swan River.
We established the rural secretariat. We started the family farm loan plan. We launched the national biomass ethanol program. We have extended the Canada infrastructure works program by one year, recognizing that good infrastructure is vital to rural life and will benefit every region in Canada.
We gave the Farm Credit Corporation a $50 million boost in the 1997 budget. We increased our community access program by $10 million. We are ongoing supporters of the 4-H program and we started the Canadian rural information service.
Our Liberal government is listening to the concerns of small town Canada and coming up with solutions that work.
Mining March 10th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the government and the hon. Minister of Natural Resources for releasing the government's response to the House standing committee's final report on streamlining environmental regulations for mining.
The response is an impressive demonstration that the government is making significant progress toward the reform of environmental regulations affecting mining. These reforms will improve Canada's investment climate, not only for the mineral and metal sectors but for all natural resource sectors.
Canada is an excellent place to invest. It is estimated that some 30,000 direct and indirect jobs related to mineral development may be created over the next five years. These high paying, high tech jobs will benefit every region of the country including Manitoba. The economic, environmental and social benefits that come from the mineral development managed in the context of sustainable development will contribute to the prosperity of all Canadians.
Indian Act Optional Modification Act February 18th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on sending the Indian Act optional modification act to committee before second reading. The minister has already outlined the contents of this legislation. He has referred to the government's overall objective to reduce federal control over the lives of First Nations people.
This legislation does not replace or amend the Indian Act. Rather, it provides an option to parts of it. First Nations can decide for themselves whether to opt for its provisions or to remain under the terms of the Indian Act.
Eventually the Indian Act will no longer be needed. It is outdated. It is paternalistic. It is cumbersome and costly. It gives the minister powers that he does not need. I anticipate that by the time the last nail is driven into the coffin of the Indian Act, very few First Nations will still be affected by it. That is because this government has set in progress a pattern of building self-government from the ground up. So this legislation must be seen within a larger context of the government's efforts to promote the inherent right of self-government of aboriginal peoples.
Over the long history of the relationship between governments and aboriginal peoples we have seen an ebb and flow of self-government. It is not a happy history. It demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of past governments. They did not appreciate the sophistication of aboriginal cultures and forms of government. The history of legislation concerning First Nations demonstrates a degree of arrogance and paternalism that causes us today to shake our heads and wonder how governments could have been so narrow minded, insensitive and unfair.
There are five statutes that provide the framework for First Nations policy during the past 200 years. The first was the royal proclamation in 1763 which separated Indian lands from those that formed the colonies. It initiated a process by which Indian land could be purchased. Second was the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in Canada Act of 1857. Third was the the Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869. Theses acts endeavoured to remove all distinctions between Indians and non-Indians.
Fourth was the Indian Act of 1876, the first to bear that title. It consolidated previous legislation and introduced new provisions. Fifth was the Indian Act of 1951 which followed the recommendation of a joint committee of this House and the other place. It introduced major reforms, including the reduction of powers exercised by the government. Those are the principal statutes but in between these key dates many amendments have been introduced that have had a profound impact on the day to day lives of First Nations peoples.
I will look at some recurring themes within those statutes and regulations. When we look at the way in which the rules have been changed at the whim of successive administrations, this House will get a better idea of why we now want to give First Nations the option to get government off their backs. One of the most important themes is the basic question who is an Indian. By 1876 the definition was someone of Indian blood, or in the case of mixed marriages the definition was a non-Indian woman married to an Indian man.
The 1951 act replaced the notion of Indian blood with the notion of registration. Registered Indians had the right to band membership and could live on reserve. Indian women who married non-Indian men were not recognized as Indians. This was not changed until the Indian Act was amended in 1985.
But the issue of who is an Indian also includes whether the government has a right to decide, whether the government has a right to take away the rights and privileges of an individual Indian. This was the objective of the Gradual Civilization Act passed in 1857. It introduced the notion of enfranchisement. An Indian adult male could obtain the franchise but he would lose his Indian status.
Over the years the government sought to encourage Indians to give up their status by promising them land which they would hold as individuals, not as members of a band. In 1857 the government promised up to 50 acres. How many Indians fell for this? How many were willing to lose their Indian status in return for enfranchisement and private ownership on reserve land? Between 1857 and the passage of the Indian Act 19 years later, only one.
This method of encouraging Indians to give up their traditional ways was not working, so in 1876 the law was changed. In a breathtaking piece of paternalism, enfranchisement was imposed automatically on any Indian who earned a university degree or who became a doctor, a lawyer or a clergyman. Compulsory enfranchisement for all Indians over 21 was taken in and out of legislation frequently over the next 43 years. In 1933 it was again reintroduced and it stayed in effect until the act was revised in 1951.
What we have here is a record of arbitrary decisions on the part of former governments to try to destroy the fabric of First Nations by removing Indian status from some of the most prominent members of the First Nations communities. This is part of the legacy of the Indian Act. This arbitrary power extends to other spheres.
In fact, much of the concern about the enfranchisement issue arose out of another broad area of concern: land. The history of government relations with First Nations with respect to land shows an alarming degree of high-handed imposition of government will. Individual land holdings on reserves were instituted in 1876. Residents received a location ticket from the superintendent general; otherwise reserve residents would not be considered to be lawfully holding their individual plots of land. The superintendent general could order that a reserve be surveyed and divided into lots and then require that band members obtain location tickets.
By 1884 a male Indian holding a location ticket could bequeath property to family members, including his wife, but the wife had to be living with him at the time of his death and she had to be of good moral character. Who decided whether she was of good character? Government authorities.
It was the government, not the band council that would decide how moneys from the surrender and sale of reserve lands and other resources would be spent. It was the superintendent general, not the band council who decided whether non-Indians could reside on or use reserve lands.
The governor in council could allow leases to be issued for surface rights on Indian reserves. There was no need to get approval from a band council. According to the changes established in 1919 the owners of the land would have to be compensated, but by 1938 even this provision was dropped.
In 1941 Indians were prohibited from selling agricultural produce, furs and wild animals. To this day the Indian Act contains a provision prohibiting the sale of agricultural products by western Indians without official permission.
Changes to the act in 1951 removed many of the most glaring inequities surrounding land. Expropriation powers were significantly reduced. Administration of Indian estates was brought more into line with provincial laws. But many of the old rules remain.
Today we shake our heads and wonder how governments of the day could be so imperious and paternalistic. But the day will come when Canadians will wonder why they continued to keep so many restrictions in the Indian Act in the latter half of the 20th century. That is why the government has introduced the legislation before us as an option to get out from under some of the old rules, to start a new era without paternalism.
I urge all members to join me in voting to send this legislation to committee for further study.
Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament who represents the rural constituency of Dauphin-Swan River, as a grain farmer and as a strong supporter of the Canadian Wheat Board, I am more than pleased to speak on behalf of Bill C-72, the amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act.
This legislation is the result of recommendations made last summer by the Western Grain Marketing Panel. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada commissioned the Western Grain Marketing Panel to hold extensive hearings and to come up with a set of recommendations to reform western grain marketing so the system can function more effectively.
After an exhaustive consultation process involving countless letters, phone calls, faxes, E-mails, petitions, public and private meetings, demonstrations, parliamentary debates, surveys and the hard work of the panel, it is clear that most farmers do not hold extreme irreconcilable viewpoints.
This was evident in the recommendations of the panel that, along with views of members of Parliament and provincial governments, helped the Government of Canada to decide on the contents of the bill we are debating today.
I know there are differences of opinions among farmers and parties and that in the end one cannot make decisions that will please everyone.
Indeed, given the historic fractiousness of the western grains industry and the deep divisions that exist between those farmers who hold the most extreme views on grain marketing, it is not possible to satisfy all sides.
I believe most farmers want the board retained but with some degree of change. They want the board to be more contemporary in its structure. They want more accountability. They want a bigger say in how things are done. They want more responsiveness to changing producer needs and changing producer opportunities. They want more flexibility in board operations. They want a greater cash flow from their grain as quickly as possible. And, of course, they want to minimize their vulnerability to trade attacks or trade limitations imposed by other countries.
On the other side of the equation, most farmers also value the proven strengths of the Canadian Wheat Board, its global reach, its market clout, the sheer size and skill to go head to head with the world's largest and most powerful grain traders and win, the ability
to minimize the effects of the European and American trade distorting export subsidies, the board's world leading market intelligence and weather surveillance systems, and its sophisticated and comprehensive before market and after market customer services.
The Canadian Wheat Board currently serves more than 100,000 prairie farmers as a single desk marketer for wheat and barley for export and domestic human consumption. Its annual sales revenues are close to $5 billion, making the board one of Canada's most significant business enterprises. It is the country's fifth largest exporter and Canada's biggest net earner of foreign exchange. It carries on business in more than 70 countries and has earned for itself and Canada a very positive reputation in the eyes of its global customers.
However, we cannot rest easy about these achievements. There is a new world out there that requires regular change in business methods to cope with changes which this legislation addresses.
The changes contained in this legislation fall into three broad categories. The first category includes changes related to the Canadian Wheat Board's structure, governance and accountability. The second includes changes related to more flexible wheat board operations and improvements in cash flow. The final category includes changes related to the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing mandate and the empowerment of farmers.
I would like to discuss the second group of changes in greater detail. To backstop cash purchases and to help the wheat board manage adjustment payments quickly, the board will be allowed to establish contingency funds as a financial cushion. The Canadian Wheat Board is currently limited to purchasing grain from farmers in elevators or in rail cars at the initial payment and subsequently issuing those individual adjustments, interim and final payments.
Under the amendments, the Canadian Wheat Board will be allowed to buy grain on a cash basis. This authority will provide the board with more flexibility in acquiring grain by allowing it to buy grain at prices that represent one time settlements with producers. When used to complement pooling operations, cash trading will tend to reduce delivery uncertainty and increase pool returns, for example by reducing demurrage costs, facilitating additional sales at attractive prices and by improving the overall efficiency of the Canadian Wheat Board's sales program. With this authority the Canadian Wheat Board will be able to bid on varying prices for grain, thereby securing supplies more effectively and improving the efficiency of its sales program and returns to farmers.
The board will be able to manage adjustment payments during any crop year on an expedited basis by removing the need to first obtain cabinet approval.
The federal government currently guarantees Canadian Wheat Board initial payments and adjustments to initial payments made during the crop year. The current requirement that all such payments be approved by cabinet hinders the speed with which the Canadian Wheat Board can adjust prices during the crop year.
Providing for the board to operate in a more businesslike manner by adjusting payments to producers more quickly, the current system of government guarantees and approvals eventually will be amended to apply only to initial payment established at the start of each pool period. After a sufficient Canadian Wheat Board contingency fund has been established, the Canadian Wheat Board will be authorized to make all subsequent adjustments and issue related payments to farmers at its discretion.
I should point out that in its 61-year history the board has never incurred a deficit on an adjusted initial payment on any of the farm pools. The few deficits that have occurred in the Canadian Wheat Board's history have all been relative to the initial price established prior to the start of the crop year.
The Canadian Wheat Board will thus be authorized to establish the appropriate contingency funds to guarantee adjustment payments to farmers and to back cash trading operations. Options for building up such funds include the board's profits on lending operations which totalled about $80 million last year and a check off on producer sales.
These new flexibilities will help put more money from the Canadian Wheat Board operations into the hands of farmers more quickly. There are some additional changes designed to increase flexibility, most of them recommended by the western grain marketing panel.
These amendments will enable the board to offer storage payments, interest payments or other delivery related payments on farm stored grain. This change is intended to encourage producers to sign delivery contracts early in the crop year and will also authorize the Canadian Wheat Board to pay bonuses for good delivery performance by farmers.
Payment of carrying costs will reduce the need for the Canadian Wheat Board to draw grain evenly from across the prairies during the crop year and thus help in logistical planning. Greater logistical efficiency results in higher net returns for farmers.
Under the proposed amendments, the board will be allowed to issue final payments well before January 1 which is not possible under the current act. The Canadian Wheat Board will be authorized by the legislation to close pools on short notice during the crop year and establish a second pool for the balance of the crop year.
Transferable producer certificates will offer greater flexibility by allowing farmers to negotiate how and when to receive payment for grain delivered to the board. Specifically the board will be allowed to establish a program that would provide farmers with a mecha-
nism to trade their producer certificates at mutually agreeable terms.
The development of condo storage facilities and the removal of delivery quotas on non-board grain crops have put out of date a provision that said deliveries of grain to an elevator facility must not exceed established quotas. Because it is necessary for the board to be involved in authorizing the flow of grain to condo facilities, this change will formalize open access by farmers to condo facilities.
With the changes proposed in Bill C-72, the Canadian Wheat Board will be able to become an even more effective marketing agent for western Canadian grain farmers.
Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I rose to speak in the House. Is there not a rotation with respect to speakers?
Lower Churchill Development Corporation Limited February 14th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the 1995 annual report of the Lower Churchill Development Corporation Limited.
Leduc Number One Oil Well February 13th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, today is the 50th anniversary of an important event in Canadian history. On February 13, 1947 Imperial Oil brought the Leduc number one oil well into production. At the time, Alberta was an agriculture based economy without sufficient resources. Oil was being imported from the United States.
Imperial Oil Limited had persevered through the decades of costly but unsuccessful exploration. One hundred and thirty-three consecutive dry holes had been drilled before the Leduc find on the southern outskirts of Edmonton. This oil well represented a turning point for the Canadian oil industry. It quickly led to the growth and development of an innovative and competitive oil patch. The oil and the natural gas industry has been a major source of income, jobs and exports since then.
The Leduc find can be considered the most important economic event to occur in the west in the postwar years.
Public Safety Officers Compensation Fund February 12th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the hon. member and all Canadians that before any full scale project involving the Bruce reactors could proceed, it would be subject to a full assessment and licensing approval of relevant federal and provincial safety, health and environmental regulatory authorities.
The approval process would include provisions for public input. If the requirements for public health and safety could not be met a MOX fuel project involving Canadian based CANDU reactors would not proceed.
Let me emphasize why Canada supports in principle the MOX fuel initiative. Weapons usable plutonium in Russia and the United States could present a clear danger because it can be remade into nuclear weapons.
The use of MOX fuel in power reactors for the generation of electricity would represent a tangible contribution to world peace and security.
Some may ask why the U.S. does not use MOX fuel in its own reactors. The U.S. has included its own light water reactors as well as Canadian based CANDU reactors in its final list of options. It has included CANDU reactors in its final list because it offers the
possibility of the disposing of both Russian and U.S. plutonium in symmetry in a trusted third country.
AECL has tested fuel at its labs over the last 30 years. The MOX fuel performance test at Chalk River laboratories' NRU reactor is required in order to ensure that the MOX fuel is suitable for use in CANDU reactors.
The AECB will be assessing the details of the test program and it will proceed only if the AECB confirms that plutonium will remain secure and that there will be no health risks to the workers at the Chalk River laboratories, to the public or to the environment.
In conclusion, I reiterate that Canada has a role to play in enhancing world peace and security. This could include playing a role, as a trusted third party, in helping to ensure that weapons usable plutonium in Russia and the U.S.-