House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.


Points Of Order

10 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, Captain Barry Woods, the Canadian captain of Korean Air flight 2033 which crashed August 10, and who as a result of his efforts saved all 152 passengers and eight crew, was being held by the South Koreans. This morning it was announced that he has been released and allowed to return to Canada to his wife and family.

On behalf of the family, I express our appreciation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, not only for his personal efforts but for the efforts of his department both here and in South Korea for the extraordinary work that has made this reunion possible. Again, on behalf of the family I say thank you very much to the minister.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-25, an act to amend the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario


Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Ron Irwin Liberal Sault Ste. Marie, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe this is a very contentious bill. It has all-party support, therefore I will be brief. It is more in the line of housekeeping than substantive change to anything being done in that area. This is the member's area. I remember that from the last round of speeches.

I would like to begin by thanking hon. members for supporting this bill at second reading and at committee. The support of members for the bill guarantees longer term benefits and stability to dozens of individuals, families and businesses associated with the Norman Wells project.

Bill C-25 will accomplish two basic objectives. First, it will extend existing jobs, create new employment and business opportunities. Second, it will ensure responsible management of one of Canada's most important producing fields.

As hon. members are aware, Bill C-25 will allow production from the massive Norman Wells oil fields to continue beyond the year 2008 and possibly to the year 2020. Without this extension the community of Norman Wells would suffer economically since it is dependent on the oil industry to a significant degree.

There is an important human element to this legislation. We are talking about maintaining existing jobs, creating new jobs in a region of Canada with few economic alternatives. We are talking about continuing a way of life and a source of income for families that have depended on the Norman Wells project for many years.

Information gathered from prolonged production and advanced technology demonstrates the extent of the field should be redefined and the expiration date should be extended to capture the full productive capability of the field.

The National Energy Board conducted an independent review of Imperial Oil's assessment. It has corroborated the conclusion that the fringe areas of the oil field extend beyond the 1944 boundaries as well as the corporation's projections on the remaining production life beyond 2008.

It is incumbent upon the government as the steward of northern resources on behalf of all Canadians to ensure that Norman Wells field is fully developed. The extension and expansion of the proven area agreement will accomplish this strategic goal.

All Canadians stand to win from the full development of the Norman Wells field. The benefits will be most obvious in the north and in Alberta where most of the money that supports the production and operation is spent. Members will be happy to know, Mr. Speaker, that the money is spent in your home province.

Taxpayers across Canada will gain something from the return on the government's one-third investment in Norman Wells. This is expected to bring the government millions in additional revenues after 2008. As well, the government will receive millions of dollars in royalty payments as a result of the extension. These two revenue sources will improve the government's overall financial situation and ease some of the burden on taxpayers.

I am pleased to note that a share of the royalties from Norman Wells will also go to the aboriginal people of the area under the terms of the land claim settlement agreements. This money will be used by the aboriginal beneficiaries to improve conditions in their communities, increase economic development initiatives and generally to build a better future.

Finally, extending the production day for Norman Wells will also revitalize industry interest in the north, particularly as land claim settlements create certainty to open new areas for exploration and development.

By approving Bill C-25 we will be sending a clear message that the Canadian north is an attractive area for investment. There are many arguments in favour of Bill C-25 and the continued production of the Norman Wells oil field. As far as I am aware there are no meaningful arguments against the project and I think members of the House agree.

With this in mind I urge my hon. colleagues to once again demonstrate their support for the bill so that it can be referred to the other place and be quickly promulgated into law. I know that the oil company involved has been waiting patiently for several months for this bill to go through the House and the other place. They are ready to keep on working. I do not think there is any disagreement in the House on this bill.

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak on Bill C-25. Although this bill represents only a minor change to the Norman Wells oilfield, it is a change of no small consequence.

The purpose of this bill is to exclude the Norman Wells Amending Agreement about to be signed from the application of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. In order to understand the reason for this amendment, it is necessary to go back and examine the history of this oil well. It was discovered in 1919 and drilling operations began in 1920.

The site's distance from markets and the economic crisis of the 1930's were unfavourable to the development of the early wells. Extraction and refining were limited to meeting local needs. World War II led to renewed exploration and the construction of a pipeline to Whitehorse. The end of the war in 1945 brought a halt to operations, which had grown from 100 barrels a day in 1940 to a production ranging from 1,500 to 25,800 barrels daily.

In 1944, the government of Canada signed an agreement with Imperial Oil to ensure the development of the Norman Wells field. In 1966, over 2,000 barrels of oil were being produced daily, primarily for shipment to locations in the Mackenzie Valley, the Arctic coast and DEW line radar stations.

In 1974, with 54 producing wells, production was 2,738 barrels of oil daily and 4.9 million cubic feet of gas. In 1981, Cabinet allowed Esso Canada to increase its production to 25,000 barrels of crude, which were sent by pipeline to Zama in Alberta.

Since then, more than 200 injection and producing wells have made Norman Wells the fourth largest producing oil field in Canada. The first delivery to the south took place in April 1985 through a 868 kilometer pipeline, 65 years after the discovery of the field.

The 1944 agreement gave exclusive drilling and mineral prospecting rights and privileges for three 21-year periods. The agreement also established the boundaries of the oil field. As I said earlier, the agreement expires in the year 2008.

The Canadian government holds an interest in the project equivalent to a third of the value of production, less a third of all production and development costs, as well as management costs. Esso also undertook to pay five per cent in annual royalties on the other two thirds of its production.

In 1992, production rose to 12.1 million barrels of oil, representing profits of 50 million for the government. The drilling program undertaken in 1984 and new technologies have made it possible to drill horizontal wells, and at the same time to produce the oil located at the boundaries of the field economically.

The new technologies have also revealed that it would be possible to work this field until the year 2020 if its boundaries were extended.

The National Energy Board has approved the expansion of the field to include the outlying area for the purpose of oil recovery in that area. This is when the Canada Petroleum Resources Act comes into play. This act provides for submissions to be made regarding issuance of production interests.

In view of the fact that the outlying area is of no use to other producers, especially considering the associated costs, it be-

comes necessary to amend the act to allow the extraction of petroleum in that area not covered by the 1944 agreement.

It is important to consider at this point how other stakeholders might view this expansion of the Norman Wells oil field.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers declared itself in agreement with the proposed change to Norman Wells boundaries because of the very special circumstances of the case. However, the Association indicated this change was not to be construed as a precedent with regard to future issuance of interests.

As for the native people, they have given their consent to the project in March 1994 on one condition: that the bill respecting the Dene and Métis land claims settlement come into force before the petroleum resources legislation be amended.

This condition was met and the Bloc Quebecois is quite pleased that the government respected the wishes of the natives peoples on this issue. Such a departure from its old ways reflects a new course that should be maintained in the future.

Exploring the new area covered in the Norman Wells Amending Agreement to be signed in 1994 seems, on the face of it, like it could benefit all the communities involved. For one thing, it will allow Imperial to invest over $30 million in a development program, $10 million of which will be spent directly in that northern area. In addition, 65 direct jobs will be created, 40 of these for northeners, as well as many indirect jobs in the service industry and other areas.

The development project includes a $6 million contract for drilling equipment. The drilling contract was awarded to a profit-sharing company owned by the Dene and Métis and Imperial. As new technologies will be developed regarding horizontal wells, this company will acquire the necessary expertise to participate in other drilling jobs. You are also looking at some long term investments, particularly in the use of enhanced oil recovery technologies.

We are talking about investments of up to $100 million, depending on the exploratory period in that particular oil field. This bill appears to accommodate both the oil industry and the native communities that depend on it for their livelihood. It is also important that the federal petroleum resources legislation remain strong with regard to the future issuance of operating interests. As the Official Opposition critic for natural resources, and after discussion with my colleagues, I will not vote against this bill and I do hope it will pay the dividends it seems to be promising.

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill today, the first bill that I will be able to speak to in my new capacity as Reform Party critic for oil and gas within the Department of Natural Resources.

Bill C-25 addresses an issue in an area of Canada I am quite familiar with, having been involved in the drilling of several wildcat wells in the Norman Wells field fringe area. Bill C-25 contains a minor amendment to the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act in order to exempt the Norman Wells amending agreement which will now be expanded to include the additional lands which are under the jurisdiction of that act.

Although this bill deals with a minor wording change it is important that this bill pass in order to exclude the Norman Wells agreement from the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act so the governor in council can proceed with its action to extend the boundaries.

At the risk of being repetitive I would like to talk briefly about the history of this oil field, discuss the necessity for this bill and talk about the positive actions the governor in council will be taking to extend the life of this field.

There is a long history leading up to this current amendment. The first oil well was drilled in Norman Wells in 1920. Since then it has grown to be the fourth largest producing field in the country. In 1944 Imperial Oil and Canada signed the Norman Wells proven area agreement which included just under 3,300 hectares within its boundaries.

When the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act came into force the Norman Wells proven area already covered by legislation was exempted from the new act. Because of this bill before us today subsequent renewals and expansions will be similarly exempted.

Since the boundaries of the Norman Wells field will be changing to include areas of new production some exemption from the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act is necessary.

It is important to note that the original Norman Wells agreement was signed before the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act came into effect. The new land that will be included in the boundary change to the Norman Wells field is the land that would normally come under the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act. This means that without an amendment exploration and production licences on these new lands would have to go to an open bidding process. This amendment is necessary to provide security of tenure for Imperial Oil and allow for the renewed investment and enhanced recovery techniques in this production field.

This amendment will also provide for one-third ownership in the production of these new areas for Canada.

In addition to the expansion of the field this amendment allows for another initiative to take place to extend the life of this field. This is the decision by the governor in council to extend the licence of Imperial Oil on the Norman Wells field to the year 2020.

There have been advances in industry extraction techniques. Imperial Oil in the Norman Wells field has pioneered and perfected much of this new technology. It was here at Norman Wells, because much of these reserves lay below the Mackenzie River, that directional and later horizontal drilling have been developed and are now used all over the world. The technology of building islands in a water body that freezes and thaws in the spring when the ice goes out was also developed here and later used in the Mackenzie Delta and the Beaufort Sea.

Other techniques of well workover for production enhancement such as water and gas flooding, formation fracturing and acidization have also been developed in good measure in this field. They have made Canada a world exporter of petroleum production technology. They have allowed us over the last 20 or 25 years to increase the recoverable reserves in Canada's conventional oil fields by up to 15 per cent, preventing the long predicted decline in conventional crude oil production.

Because of these advancements in technology they now believe that the Norman Wells field will be productive well beyond the original date. Therefore it is important that the governor in council proceed with extending this licence so that as much oil as possible can be extracted in a realistic timeframe.

With this bill allowing for the Norman Wells boundaries to be extended and the order in council decision to extend Imperial Oil's licence, Imperial Oil will be given the security of tenure it needs for long term planning and control of overhead costs. This will make this field economically viable for a much longer period.

It has been assured that there is time to realize a return on major investments in new technology. These investments are essential to maximizing the production from this field.

With the extension of the boundaries and licences, Imperial Oil will commence a $30 million drilling program. This drilling program will be undertaken mostly in the expanded proven area; more specifically, 12 new wells, four for water injection and eight for production, drilled along the field limits of the new boundaries. About one-third of the money, $10 million, will be spent directly in the north. Most of the remaining $20 million will be spent in my home province of Alberta.

I would hope this is an indication that this government realizes the importance of providing our resource based industries with predictability and stability in policy environment. If this government starts sending signals to the private sector that it is safe to make long term investment plans, it will lead to economic growth and the creation of far more permanent jobs than government can hope to achieve through any temporary government initiated make work projects.

This amendment is good for Imperial Oil because it provides a stable planning environment. It is good the Sahtu Dene and other local residents because they can rely on employment opportunities and a cash infusion into the local economy for many more years. It is good for the Canadian people because it will generate additional oil revenues and royalties.

From my perspective the only thing objectionable about this bill is that in spite of the fact that no party could or did object to this initiative, it has taken over two years to get this simple initiative through this cumbersome, unresponsive process.

Let me and my party affirm our support for this bill and encourage all other members of this House to do so as well.

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to join with others in support of this bill, recognizing as the previous speaker has indicated that this amendment will give recognition for technological development by Imperial Oil. It will be good for Imperial Oil. It will be good for the Sahtu Dene and Metis land claims settlement act process.

The Dene in the area will benefit directly in terms of wealth, particularly with the largest contract involved, $6 million, and a conditional tender given to Shethah Drilling Ltd., a Dene, Metis and Imperial Oil joint venture. This bodes well in terms of future developments in the north and throughout Canada generally.

Also, as the previous speaker has indicated, the people of Canada will benefit from this resource in two ways, through the normal royalty process and also through profit sharing. It seems to me this marries the federal government, the people of Canada, Imperial Oil of Canada and the First Nations people of the north. This is an excellent model on which further northern development ought to be based.

I had a number of questions in terms of what this bill would do. I want to indicate my appreciation to the minister who, with his associates, clarified some of these. For example, I was not certain whether the Sahtu Dene and Metis land claims settlement act had been proclaimed. This was a condition that they had for their support. I was told that has now taken place.

There was concern also because of the new technology involved. The previous speaker indicated that new technology has been developed in this part of Canada, particularly with horizontal drilling to avoid sensitive and fragile ecological areas. Quite frankly this is good technology that will help development throughout other parts of northern Canada and throughout similar environmentally and ecologically sensitive parts of the world.

The question was whether as a result of the increased oil flow and the horizontal drilling technique this would influence the royalty system. I have been assured by the minister it will not. The second question was whether there will be ongoing environmental studies watching this new process as a result of the horizontal drilling that is going on. Again the minister indicated that the National Energy Board and other agencies will actually be monitoring this project in terms of environmental concerns.

Also, I wanted to confirm again in terms of precedent setting that this agreement will continue to give one-third of the profits to the people of Canada. After all, we would appreciate that this resource belongs to the people of Canada and they ought to share directly in its development. Again, that has been confirmed.

This $30 million drilling program producing eight productive wells will not only bring job opportunities to the residents of the area which is certainly needed, but will benefit Canada in the ways I have already mentioned.

I want to say on behalf of my colleagues that we will be supporting this bill enthusiastically. I do want to share the concern raised by the previous speaker that such a straightforward piece of legislation would take so long. We have been watching this inch its way through the parliamentary process. It says something about the way we deal with business here. Perhaps it will add to the changes that will expedite business, particularly something which is so straightforward.

However, I suppose the quid pro quo would be the concern with the Sahtu Dene and Metis land claims settlement act to get their support on this. That took perhaps more time than we had anticipated.

Overall I think the point was well taken. The process here is cumbersome at best and something we must all strive to achieve is expediting the passing of legislation in the future. The world is changing quickly around us and we have yet to get this place up to speed.

Canada Petroleum Resources ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


John Loney Liberal Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak in favour of this important bill. While it represents a small amendment, Bill C-25 will have important ramifications for Norman Wells and other northern communities. As my colleague, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, has outlined, two important objectives underlie this bill.

First, Bill C-25 will ensure the responsible management of an important natural resource. We have heard in earlier debate how this legislation offers sound resource management. I am sure most members of this House will agree that such measures are important to our resource base.

Let us turn to the second objective of Bill C-25, the creation of a stronger northern economy. Passage of this legislation offers the sustainment and development of employment and business opportunities. I believe that the realization of this objective alone is impetus for this legislation.

A bit of history is necessary in order to fully appreciate the economic benefits the Norman Wells oil field has brought to the north and those it could yet bring with the passage of this legislation.

In 1944 the Canadian government entered into an agreement with Imperial Oil to develop the oil field at Norman Wells in the Mackenzie Valley. The proven area agreement that was adopted set boundaries and a production limit for the field.

At the time it was predicted that the field would be productive until the year 2008 at the latest, but with today's more sophisticated technology we know that the Norman Wells oil field has a much longer productive life. In fact, it is expected to remain productive until at least 2020.

Technological advances over the 50 years have also led to a more advanced knowledge of the extent of the oil pool at the Norman Wells area. However, it has been shown that a small part of the pool lies outside the original proven area boundaries. As hon. members know, Bill C-25 extends the proven area boundaries to include all the proven reserves.

What does all this mean for the people of Norman Wells and other northern communities? The bottom line is that it means greater economic stability and growth. The Norman Wells project injects millions of dollars into the northern economy each year.

Over 50 companies in Norman Wells and other northern communities receive a substantial amount of business directly from the oil project. This says nothing of the spinoff business generated for those and other companies.

For a better appreciation, consider for a moment how businesses would be affected by reduced spending by Norman Wells employees alone. Considering the project provides annual wages to the northern residents in the range of $3.7 million, this loss would most certainly have devastating economic effects on small business.

Now consider the positive implications of increasing the size and production life of Norman Wells. The passage of this legislation paves the way for a $30 million drilling program which will be undertaken by Imperial Oil, the operating company of Norman Wells.

This project and the extension of the field's productive life in general will increase short term employment and stabilize long term employment in the Norman Wells area. It is estimated that an additional 25 person-years of indirect employment will also be created in the north.

Northern businesses will also benefit from the opportunity to learn up to date horizontal drilling technology. Future business and employment opportunities will be enhanced for these firms not only in the north, but also in Alberta and B.C. where there is a shortage of such expertise.

The economic benefits of this small amendment to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act do not end at the 60th parallel. Indeed, all Canadians stand to benefit from the passage of this bill.

Not only will the Government of Canada's financial position improve from the additional corporate and personal tax revenues, the government's one-third investment in Norman Wells is expected to bring in millions of extra dollars.

This project will also be an economic benefit to Albertans. At a time when Canadians are looking for economic stimuli, this is clearly a wonderful opportunity. I urge hon. members to lend their support to this bill so economic renewal can continue.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

Department Of Agriculture ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

moved that Bill C-49, an act to amend the Department of Agriculture Act and to amend or repeal certain other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to begin the debate on Bill C-49, an act to amend the Department of Agriculture Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

In some ways this bill is a reflection of the kinds of changes the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry has undergone in recent years and can anticipate in future years.

The amendments add the word "agri-food" to the department's name, reflecting a recognition that the department's mandate extends far beyond the farm gate. This change also reflects a recognition that what happens on the farm and beyond the farm gate are intimately linked together. The strength of primary agriculture depends to a great extent on the strength of all those downstream in the food chain who process and use agricultural products.

The bill also defines more precisely the department's responsibilities for research. The existing act only mentions research indirectly through a reference to experimental farm stations. This bill broadens the definition to cover research related to agriculture and products derived from agriculture, including the operation of experimental farm stations.

This clarification of the mandate of the department in no way takes away from this government's commitment to Canadian farmers as primary producers. In fact it strengthens it by ensuring that the importance of maintaining and nurturing the health and prosperity of the entire agriculture and agri-food industry is upheld.

Farmers are and will always be at the centre of the agriculture industry. As such the department will continue to devote a very large amount of its resources to farmers. In addition, there is a growing need to be aware of the products of Canadian agri-food processors. More and more we must be aware that market development is important not just for raw commodities but increasingly for value added products.

There are opportunities for the agriculture industry to provide ingredients for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints and energy products, in addition to food products. More and more we must be assured that the systems are in place to produce those products and to ensure they reach their market destinations.

Before that process even begins we must ensure that the kinds of crops and livestock demanded by these markets are being produced and we must ensure that the research and technology are there to transform those crops and livestock into the processed products in demand worldwide. That is where the department's research function comes into play, both in developing the commodities that form the basis of the industry and in pioneering new uses for them.

The research branch of the department has been conducting research to the benefit of both the primary and secondary agriculture industries for many, many years and with great distinction. The changes in this bill merely reflect that ongoing work in the definition of the department's responsibilities for research.

It is fitting to be talking about the mandate of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-food at this time. As we approach the beginning of a new century it is time to take a look at where we would like Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry to be in the years 2000, 2005 and 2010.

This industry is a very important one to this nation. It represents 8 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product and accounts for 1.8 million Canadian jobs. That is 15 per cent of all of the employment in this country. Agricultural and agri-food exports equal more than $13 billion annually. In 1992 farm inputs valued at $10.5 billion translated into farm products worth $20 billion. That translated into a further $44 billion worth of processed food and beverage products.

The agriculture and agri-food sector enhances the quality of life in both rural and urban Canada. It ensures a safe, high quality food supply. Because of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector, in comparison to the rest of the world Canadians spend the second lowest proportion of their disposable incomes on food.

It is important to ensure that the success of this industry so vital to all Canadians continues. Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry must be able to compete in a rapidly changing world. A common vision is needed, shared by government and industry, to take the agriculture and agri-food sector into the 21st century. In that way we will together be able to make the kinds of decisions necessary to secure our future.

The world in which Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry does business is not the same today as it was 25 years ago or 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. For example, in the grains and oilseeds sector alone markets for Canadian products have changed dramatically. It was not all that long ago that we depended upon traditional billion dollar bulk grain markets in places like the former Soviet Union and China.

Many of those markets have been replaced by more varied and somewhat smaller and more individual markets. Customers now more and more are buying to exacting specifications. Our U.S. market has grown to almost 60 per cent of agri-food exports so far this year.

By the year 2010 rural population is expected to increase by another two billion people. Over the next five years incomes in regions like Asia and the Pacific are expected to rise by 6 per cent to 12 per cent per year. Incomes are also expected to rise in areas such as Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

With these increases in income and the changes in the quality of life that it brings, there will be a shift in global consumption patterns to more animal protein products and more highly processed food products than ever before. At the same time, key export markets such as the United States remain crucial to the continued growth and development of our industry here in Canada.

On the domestic side we are also confronted with changing marketplaces and fiscal constraints on federal and provincial budgets. Is the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector ready to respond to changing demands internationally? Is it ready to respond to changing imperatives on the domestic front?

The industry is strong in a great many ways. The value of agricultural output continues to increase by about 2 per cent annually. Productivity growth rates are high by international standards. Many processing firms are shifting to focus more and more on world markets.

Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry has a solid basis in abundant natural resources and sound environmental practices, is productive in skilled human resources, has a well developed infrastructure and institutions and a reasonably stable operating environment. However, there are areas where we must do better.

Right now Canada has higher processing and marketing costs and less private sector research than many of our major competitors. Although Canada is exporting more of our higher valued agri-food products to the United States, our imports are growing faster than our exports and we are missing opportunities for marketing higher valued agri-food products. There is little growth in our exports of higher valued products to countries other than the United States, in particular to Asian markets where standards of living and demand are growing rapidly.

In 1993 our agricultural private sector, supported by federal and provincial ministers of agriculture, set a target for agriculture and agri-food exports of $20 billion by the year 2000. To achieve that goal, industry and federal and provincial governments will need to work harder to meet the challenges of the global marketplace.

Right now our growth rate in agri-food exports is not sufficient to meet that target of $20 billion by the year 2000. Change is needed if the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry is to grow and prosper into the next century.

If we look at the grains and oilseeds sector as an example, it is clear that change is beginning to take place. Farmers are beginning to diversify out of traditional crops such as wheat and into more new crops such as mustard seed, canary seed, lentils and especially canola.

Acreage of specialty crops grew almost 130 per cent in the period from 1988 to 1994. At the same time acreage of wheat fell by about 15 per cent. With farmers beginning to diversify out of traditional crops, new demands and challenges are being placed on our grain handling and transportation system as these different crops are moved into export position.

In the last crop year, as we all know, we experienced some very serious problems with moving grains and oilseeds partly due to a rail car shortage and a number of other factors that conspired together at the same time. Those issues, as I have discussed in the House on other occasions, are being dealt with so that the kinds of problems experienced in the last crop year can be avoided to the largest extent humanly possible in the current crop year and into the future.

The whole experience with our grain handling and transportation system brings into focus the question of whether the system in Canada is sufficiently equipped to meet the demands of a rapidly changing international marketplace.

On another front we have to look at technology and we have to ensure that Canada is not being left behind. For example, non-food uses for grains, oilseeds and other agricultural products are expected to rise dramatically in the years immediately ahead. Forecasts in the United States and Europe predict that up to 50 per cent of raw agricultural materials will be used in the future for non-food industrial purposes.

Is Canada investing sufficiently in the kinds of research required to develop new products from our grains, our oilseeds and our other agricultural output?

There are many other issues on the agenda with respect to the renewal of our supply management systems, with respect to our red meat sector, with respect to horticulture issues and with respect to challenges affecting the broad spectrum of Canadian agriculture.

Clearly, as we face all the issues and challenges that provide us at the same time with enormous opportunity, we must develop a common vision to ensure the decisions taken today and the initiatives undertaken in the future are part of a comprehensive long term plan for a progressive, competitive and successful agriculture and agri-food sector.

I believe such a vision for the future must include at least five key elements. First it must be founded on economic reality. If the base is artificial then the plan will soon collapse.

The fundamental reality is the marketplace. We must produce what the world wants to buy. We must do it cost effectively. We must diversify. We must be good managers and world class marketers. We must build strategic alliances internally and internationally. We must ensure that the benefits flow fairly among all our regions and all the players in that complicated food chain.

Second, our vision must recognize that rural Canada is not a backwater. It can in fact be the location of wealth generation, economic growth and new jobs.

Diversification on and off the farm, value added processing, and niche marketing including exports, are all part of the equation for rural Canada, as are research and development and information technology to link the kitchen table in Sedley, Saskatchewan, to Toronto and Vancouver and indeed Osaka and Hong Kong.

A third requirement for our vision is financial security. I have not met a farmer yet who tells me that he or she wants subsidization. What they want is a decent marketplace with a decent return.

Well managed farms should expect a reasonable rate of return even though in some cases it may be supplemented by some amount of off farm income. The weather and other production and marketing risks will always necessitate a farm safety net program, but federal and provincial tax dollars are scarce and support in the form of safety nets must not distort production or marketing signals.

Fourth, we must achieve resource and environmental sustainability. We need a sensitive and sensible balance among social, economic and environmental considerations founded on enhancing our resource base, maintaining surrounding ecosystems, and developing, adapting and marketing new technologies to protect our environment. Our environmental stewardship could become a unique new Canadian export opportunity.

The fifth and final element in this vision that I would mention at the moment is the maintenance of a safe and secure food supply. That is really the foundation upon which everything else rests. Food safety has been and must continue to be a priority in and for Canada. Our reputation for safety and quality is vital to our domestic consumers and is a critical advantage in the international marketplace.

We must reduce our inspection costs while not impairing but rather enhancing our inspection system overall. That can be achieved by a national, non-duplicative system tuned to market requirements and international standards with alternative delivery options.

What I have mentioned in the last few moments is a framework in which I believe we can structure a sound and solid game plan for the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. It is not yet all inclusive and it is certainly not cast in stone, but I think it is a basis upon which to begin.

We cannot foretell the future. Neither can we forestall it. What we must do is define our best case scenario, where we really want to get to, and set out the steps needed to make that outcome most likely. I hope we can do it with the largest degree of consensus and teamwork.

I close by saying I am extremely confident about Canada's agri-food sector and I am very ambitious about its future. There are no guarantees but as Wayne Gretzky once said, you will miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take. We need to start shooting the puck at the net and we need to score. That is what this vision for the future of Canadian agriculture is intended to achieve.

With a strong market orientation and the careful use of scarce tax dollars, with diversification, innovation and value added, with thoughtful stewardship of our natural resources, with the enhancement of our human resources, with a sharp focus on rural Canada and local communities, with high international standards and a cohesive team Canada attitude we can meet the objectives outlined in our red book last year about growth, jobs and security. Agriculture and agri-food can play a very large role.

Department Of Agriculture ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois on Bill C-49, introduced by the Minister of Agriculture to amend the act governing his department.

Essentially, the bill changes the department's name to Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. As the minister explained during his speech, the new name confirms that today the government's agricultural responsibilities are not restricted to helping farmers; their economic well-being and survival are largely dependent on the need to process, market and distribute their products.

I think a country has a responsibility to ensure the smooth development of its agricultural sector, whose impact on the lives of nations and peoples is well known.

In his speech, the minister identified his responsibilities with respect to marketing. I think it is an important sector. In Quebec, I heard about demands made by fine cheese producers, for example, who saw their industry's problem as one of marketing. I hope that this bill will enable the department, in cases like these, to help our producers market their products.

Of course, in a modern state, the agriculture department's responsibilities go beyond dealing with agricultural production as such. I think a modern state's responsibilities extend to marketing and to helping and supporting agricultural producers and processors. With the globalization of markets, we must export abroad.

I think, as the minister pointed out in his speech, that the time for exporting raw commodities is over. We, for instance, used to export enormous quantities of wheat to Russia. I think that we must refine our policies in this area and take steps to process our products right here, because agriculture-as the minister also mentioned-is a major source of jobs in Canada. The downstream sector in agriculture, the whole processing industry, is very important in that respect.

It is therefore important that the Department of Agriculture work to improve our competitiveness, our independence from foreign countries, and to ensure the future of our agricultural system, and that the department do its part to promote research. The bill points out that the department has responsibilities in this area.

I would like to point out how ironic it is that Bill C-50 on the Canadian Wheat Board, proposing that checkoffs be made from sales proceeds to support research, was tabled last Monday. I do not know if, in the future, other agricultural sectors will be asked to make the same effort. If not, one has to wonder whether we are not asking wheat producers to subsidize agricultural research twice through their taxes and the checkoffs? It remains to be seen.

You can see from my remarks that the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill, even though it does not address at all the matter of overlap. Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to clarify what I mean after Question Period.

Department Of Agriculture ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being eleven o'clock, pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Marathon Of Montreal IslandStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Martin Cauchon Liberal Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to commend and congratulate the organizers and all the volunteers who made possible the third Marathon of Montreal Island, held last Sunday in the cities of Outremont, Mount Royal and Saint-Laurent, and in which I myself had the honour to take part.

This international sporting event provides direct economic benefits estimated at several million dollars for the greater Montreal region. Again this year, it drew more than 6,000 athletes, including many from all over the world. In short, the September 18 marathon was a resounding success.

In closing, I wish to especially point out the participation of 1,200 volunteers who worked together to make this major sporting event such a great success. I want to draw attention to the excellent work they did and I thank them very sincerely for it.

1992 ReferendumStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Prime Minister of Canada takes a malicious pleasure in making Quebec pay for belonging to Canada.

This prime minister has done everything to make Quebecers like him. He was involved in the proclamation of the war measures in 1970. He was responsible for the night of the long knives. He is the one who thanked the Premier of Newfoundland, Clyde Wells, for killing the Meech Lake Accord.

Now he is acting like a bad debtor by refusing to pay Quebec back for its contribution to the 1992 referendum, which was held under Quebec law with the agreement of the federal government then in power.

Mr. Prime Minister, you are being consistent only with yourself when you show such contempt for the Quebec people, who are able to judge you when they see who is defending Quebec's interests in this House. You accuse us of being elected under false representations; we reply to you that you are robbing the Quebec people of pride and honour.

Land ClaimsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of this House the need to open B.C. land claims negotiations to the general public.

On September 20 Premier Mike Harcourt bowed to public pressure and issued a statement claiming to bring a new openness to the process. Steps have been taken to include local municipal governments in treaty negotiations but more must be done.

As the premier recently noted, closed doors negotiations and mandatory confidentiality statements have undermined public trust.

There is a mood of uncertainty and fear in affected communities. Negotiations have been secretly carried out and the average citizen is scared. Public policy is best decided in open meetings, not behind closed doors. Let the people who have to live with the decisions have a say in the decisions.

I call on the federal government to follow the premier's lead and allow the average citizen to be a part of negotiations. This is necessary to restore a mood of trust and public confidence to a process long marred by unwarranted secrecy.

SaskatchewanStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have three topics, Saskatchewan, immigration and birthdays.

My province of Saskatchewan joined Confederation in 1905. It was another Liberal Prime Minister, Laurier, whose visionary immigration policies opened the west to settlement by immigrants from around the world.

Settlers came to a land that Saskatchewan's Connie Kaldor describes as harsh and unforgiving. This land offered independence and opportunity, treasures precious enough to be worth a little dust and frostbite.

Next year marks Saskatchewan's 90th birthday, the 90th anniversary of Laurier's western visit. In only 90 years, less than one lifetime, Saskatchewan pioneers have taken us from oxcarts to fax machines.

I think of Herbert S. Wright, born on this date in 1907. An English immigrant, Stan and his wife Peggy raised three children. Starting a family at the beginning of the great depression was not easy, yet the Wrights faced the challenge, prospered and were stronger for it.

Thanks to immigrants, pioneers we sometimes call them, Canada is stronger too.

MexicoStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, August 21, 1994 was election day in Mexico. I, along with the member for Louis-Hébert, was part of a nine member delegation for the International Centre for Human Rights based in Montreal, headed by Ed Broadbent and funded by the Canadian government.

We were part of a group of a thousand foreign observers invited by Action Civica, a non-partisan organization involving tens of thousands of Mexicans who are fighting for fair elections and a civil society in Mexico.

By all accounts the election outcome in Mexico, despite many shortcomings, represented the will of the Mexican people. Given our closer relationships with Mexico through NAFTA it is of great interest to Canadians that Mexico continue on the road to democratization and the building of a civil society.

Canada and Mexico can be strategic allies, ensuring that NAFTA is fair to the three countries involved. I ask my colleagues in the House to join with me in congratulating the Mexican people and Action Civica in their quest.

I further call on this Parliament to work on strengthening our ties with the Mexican government to promote the democratization and the building of a civil society in Mexico.

Canadian UnityStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a Canadian and a politician, I have just spent a unique and enlightening summer, and I would like to tell the House about it.

Given how much talk there is about the future of Quebec within Canada, many Canadians discuss the issue and share their views with one another. This is what I wanted to do in an active way during the summer.

I went to Quebec several times to study French and to get in contact with people and their milieu. I believe there are always two sides to a coin and at least two perceptions of a problem and its solution.

I wanted to go to the source to find out and to better understand what people think. This is what I did during the summer and I thank all those who helped me get that better understanding of the situation.

1992 ReferendumStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebecers have long known that they should not take the federal government's word. They are also used to being forced to fight to get the millions of dollars owed to them. But what really hurts is to have to put up with the mockery and sarcasm of all the Liberal MPs when claiming the $26 million owed to Quebec taxpayers following the referendum on the Charlottetown accord.

It hurts even more when this sarcasm comes from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal. Some day, all government members from Quebec will have to explain why they spurned with such delight the justified claims of the Bloc Quebecois.

Given their chuckling and their sarcasm, must we conclude that this is the price to pay to remain in the Canadian federation?

Human RightsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal members of Parliament stand strong in their support of human rights. We stand firm behind the principles of Bill C-41 which include sexual orientation as a ground to be protected when an aggravating factor in sentencing for criminal offences.

The Government of Canada stands firm behind this bill as it stands firm in its belief that human rights acts and the charter protect Canadians from all forms of discrimination.

Sexual orientation is one of those protected heads. We promised in the red book to amend the federal Human Rights Act. We look forward to the fulfilment of that promise to make human rights the Canadian hallmark of true civilization.

Gun ControlStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians on both sides of the highly emotional, polarized gun control debate must move from their extreme positions and work to find common ground. Legitimate concerns of responsible gun owners will be listened to.

We must not equate gun owners with criminals. However, we must also work to prevent the abuse of firearms.

The shocking brutality of domestic violence must be recognized and understood by all Canadians. In Canada 42 per cent of women killed by husbands are shot, 80 per cent with rifles and shotguns. The majority of these guns are legally owned.

It is a privilege, not a right, to own a firearm. We must do whatever possible to ensure our communities, homes and children are safe.

Federal Public ServantsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, for many years, federal employees working in the National Capital Region have had to cope with upheavals that have changed their lives. The Conservative government destroyed the morale of the region's public servants, but it paid a price for its ill-advised partisan policies.

All studies on decentralizing federal services should be suspended immediately. We need a five-year moratorium on transfer of public servants.

Treasury Board should prepare specific guidelines that are sensible, cost-conscious, and consider the impact on public service morale and whether services will really be improved.

As members of the National Capital caucus, we intend to defend our position and demonstrate that these plans are a big mistake. Specific guidelines issued by Treasury Board would prevent the party in power from transferring services for political reasons.

1992 ReferendumStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can we trust a federal government that repudiates verbal agreements made with the former Premier of Quebec and member of the great Liberal family?

Everyone saw Mr. Bourassa say in the Quebec National Assembly that there was an agreement on referendum costs. The government's attitude is astonishing, when we consider that the same federal government, on the basis of a commitment by an unknown individual, approved a transaction that was totally unacceptable, in the case of Ginn Publishing.

This government's double standard shows that many Quebecers are right to distrust federal politicians who fail to keep their word once they have won the election.

It is a sad reflection on democracy, and Quebecers will not forget that in Canada, they must pay twice for the federal referendum and that the word of a Quebecer who is Prime Minister in Ottawa does not mean a thing.

Emergency PersonnelStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to notify my fellow MPs that I intend to bring forward a very important private member's bill that could likely save the life of a firefighter or police officer in the near future.

The bill would require hospital officials to notify emergency response personnel when they have inadvertently come into contact with an infectious disease while carrying out their life saving duties. This disclosure would be strictly private and confidential.

In an age when contagious diseases ranging from HIV to hepatitis are on the rise in Canada, protection for emergency personnel is needed more than ever. Lives are at stake here.

I ask the government to give my bill its most serious consideration once introduced. A formal symposium on this issue will be held in Ottawa next week. I feel it would be a sign of goodwill if all hon. members were to recognize the potential danger our invaluable emergency service personnel now find themselves in and pledge to resolve this dangerous situation.