Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand in the House of Commons in Ottawa, our nation's capital, and speak on behalf of farmers.
I come from farming stock. My grandparents on both sides of my family were pioneers in the west. They opened up some land. They began farming. My dad who is now in his mid-eighties still can't stay off of the farm. At seeding time and harvest, he goes out there and he has to see what the boys are doing.
It just sort of gets into your blood. Once you have been involved in growing grain, in producing food to feed not only Canadians but also people around the world, it is much more than a matter of just having a job and a livelihood. It is a matter of great service.
My brother who has taken over our family farm has taught me a lot in terms of patience and perseverance, as did my dad, farming in the dirty thirties. I remember one bumper sticker that my brother had on his half-ton that I think is very appropriate. It said: When you complain about the farmers, don't talk with your mouth full.
I think that is so important because it is the farmers who produce our food and, without food, we die. Without food and the export of food, our country's economy takes a huge beating because so much of what we produce is for the export market.
I have a great honour to stand here and speak on behalf of farmers, not only because of my family involvement in it, but also because of the fact that I represent a rural constituency in Alberta where people farm. To me, the essence of the debate is the individual freedom of these farmers to manage their affairs.
We all know the difficulties under which farmers operate. They have the vicissitudes of weather, the vagaries of government. They have the high costs of machinery and input costs of other kinds. It is a great affront to me when the very fundamental freedom that they have to sell their own market, to sell their own product, is taken away.
I know I have to cut myself short here because of the time. In conclusion, I want to quote A. de Tocqueville, a great philosopher, from his book Democracy in America . This is a quotation that came to my mind. I looked it up this afternoon because I wanted to get this into the record. I quote:
—after having thus successfully taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arms over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered but softened, bent and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrial animals, of which government is the shepherd.
Mr. Speaker, I will not read to the end of it. I will just say in conclusion I do not want to live in such a Canada. I do not want to live in a country where some distant autocratic government dictates to the people what they can and what they cannot do. I want to live in a democracy where the will of those people is reflected in the rules.
That is why I urge all members to vote in favour of the amendment which is in front of us now, which is to hold this bill for a short time while we examine it further and get it right.