Mr. Speaker, we are here discussing gophers this afternoon. I noticed as my colleague from Wetaskiwin was speaking that you were listening intently, Mr. Speaker, and all the pages were paying attention to his informative and educational speech on gophers and what they are about.
I was a little concerned this afternoon, because I heard a couple of colleagues asking what we were doing talking about gophers and I overheard someone saying that just what he came here for was to talk about gophers. I need to remind the folks here of the old saying that all politics is local.
In this situation, I think that applies very strongly, because this is an important issue for a group of people: our farmers and our producers. Although some people may think it is a bit of a joke, I can assure them that it is not a joke for people facing this problem.
This government has really damaged farmers' ability to control these pests through a couple of different means, one of them being Bill C-68, which we are all familiar with. First, the government refuses to back off in its support of a gun registry that is costing Canadians billions of dollars and which in my part of the world is affecting farmers' ability to control these rodents. Second, the government has interfered with our ability to control them by interfering with the application of strychnine.
I have to compliment the member for Vegreville--Wainwright because he has been persistent in this fight to try to make sure that farmers have access to 2% strychnine. I know that it is not a new issue for him. I was here during the last Parliament and this was an issue for him then as well. He has been very persistent. In this Parliament alone he has brought two private members' bills forward, Bill C-377 and Bill C-381, both dealing with this issue. He has also brought this motion forward. My colleague should be commended for his strong work in this area.
I know that my time today will be brief, but I want to make sure, as my colleague from Yorkton--Melville did, that farmers once again are reminded of a call to action. There is an opportunity for them to influence the government's decision in this area. Until November 24, anyone who has been affected by this issue has the right to submit a brief to the government. They can send it to: Publications, Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Health Canada, 2720 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0K9.
It is essential that people participate in this process. The government needs to know that farmers are being affected by this so that it will take the issue seriously. Those submissions should outline things like the type of damage that has been caused by gophers and the estimated cost for farmers in a bad year. I know that the costs can be huge. We have had areas in my riding where these gophers have wiped out 50, 60 or 70 acres of crop just because there are so many of them in a small area. They can be a significant problem. In 2001 and 2002, they had a huge impact on certain areas in western Canada.
In their submissions, farmers need to talk about the effectiveness of the chemicals that are available to them now. The stuff that is 0.4% is just not working and I think is probably more of a danger to the environment than the stronger strychnine solution because it ends up just being left around. The gophers do not eat it. They are not using it up. Farmers need to talk about that.
Farmers also need to talk about the cost savings and the convenience to them of having the 2% liquid strychnine solution that they can mix with their own grain. I encourage as many as possible to send in their submissions.
We only have about four ways to control gophers. Poison is one and we are here talking about it today. We think we need an effective way of doing this. Some people have suggested that we trap the gophers. That might work in somebody's city yard, but it certainly will not work on a large scale. Trapping is barely enough to control gophers in a garden. Some people have tried different methods of fumigation. It has had limited effectiveness. As I mentioned, of course, shooting gophers is getting to be more difficult because of the restrictions this government has brought in. The government does not seem to mind inconveniencing farmers. It is a bit disturbing that the government would continue to make this a problem for them.
In conclusion, let me say that we should step forward and support this bill. The environmental issues certainly can be controlled. It is our obligation to do things to help out our farming community. In a tough situation and tough times, this is something we could do that would not cost the government a lot of money and would be very effective for our producers. It would be an important step forward.
I am eager to hear what my colleague from Vegreville--Wainwright has to say in conclusion on this matter. I ask members to support his motion.