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House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sent over a note to alert the human resources minister to the fact that I would raise this point of order. It arises out of question period.

In response to a question the hon. minister quoted directly from a letter that she had from her deputy minister. I would ask that she table that letter now.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to your ruling only recently, I am sure the hon. member is not asking now that the letter be tabled before it is fully translated and prepared.

I will endeavour to ask whether the document can be tabled in the House. If that is the case we will have it translated and tabled at the earliest opportunity because at the present time according to our rules, and it was members across who invoked them only a few days ago, these letters must now be translated first and tabled after.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The minister is with us right now. All she has to do is answer the question. Is the letter translated?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to have the letter translated and present it.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

When the letter is translated it will be laid upon the table.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, twice you ruled my question out of order. I was a bit surprised and I would like clarification.

In my opinion in both instances I was asking questions about direct action of the Department of Human Resources relating both to internal matters with employees and externally, and you ruled them out of order.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I listen to the preamble to the question and then I listen to the formulation of the question. If it deals with the administrative responsibilities of the government then I allow it, but I understood the question to be about the Liberal Party and, as such, I ruled it out of order. My decision stands.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Order In Council AppointmentsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a letter to Mr. Robert Marleau regarding order in council appointments, which I will read:

I am pleased to table in both official languages a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 110(1), these are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees, a list of which is attached.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the request from the Speaker of the House on February 8, 2000, and the committee's mandate under Standing Order 108(3)(a)(iii) I have the honour to present the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the interpretation and administration of the provisions of Standing Order 87(6).

I also have the honour to present the 20th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the associate membership of the liaison committee in the House, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

(Motion agreed to)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 17th, 2000 / 12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. The first one is signed by hundreds of folks from Manitoulin Island.

The petition notes that in 1989 the Parliament of Canada passed a motion calling for the abolition of child poverty in Canada. It calls upon the government to develop a multi-year plan to achieve that goal.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from quite a number of citizens of Parry Sound.

The petition calls upon the government to consider changes to the tax system so that senior citizens, under certain conditions, could have a reduced income tax upon cashing in RIFs and RRSPs in order to pay off a mortgage.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to present today that has been signed by 25 people living in my riding of Peace River.

It urges parliament to ensure that the possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence and that police forces be given the authority to enforce this law for the protection of children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition of many pages from citizens of the Peterborough area who are concerned about child poverty.

They point out that one in five Canadian children live in poverty and that the House of Commons in 1989 unanimously resolved to end child poverty by this year.

The petitioners call upon parliament to use the federal budget to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children. They urge parliament to fulfil the promise of 1989.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker I have two petitions concerning the genetic engineering of food, plants and animals.

The petitioners point out that this practice is still relatively new but it now involves the manipulation of the most basic building blocks of life. It can affect normal plants in the surrounding areas through the spread of pollen. They also point out that there may be long term genetic effects as a result.

One petition calls upon parliament to introduce clear labelling of seeds and food products that are genetically engineered so that farmers and consumers have a choice.

The other petition has a similar preamble but the petitioners call upon the federal authorities to ensure that non-genetically engineered seeds will always be available to all Canadian farmers.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to be able to present a petition signed by hundreds and hundreds of citizens of Winnipeg and Manitoba who note that on November 24, 1989, the House of Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.

They also note that since that time the number of poor children in Canada has increased by 60%. They call on parliament to keep its promise and on the federal government to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party today put a motion on the floor of the House condemning the government for its failure to provide Canadians with a long term sustainable plan to address the crisis in our health care system. First of all I will say that I reject the opposition motion and then I will put forward a plan that I think is central to the renewal and the revitalization of the health care system in Canada.

The national food plan which I am putting forward is something I have been working on with my colleagues in the greater Toronto caucus and my colleagues in the western and rural caucuses. We have been working on this idea for a few months and today we begin the campaign to promote it.

I feel it is important to put this idea forward in parliament because there is no greater fundamental to a healthy society than a healthy food system. We need a healthy food system which works for the benefit of all Canadians. If we do not have a food system that works as well as it can, then we cannot achieve our goals in continually working to build and strengthen a healthy society.

Key to our health is the food we eat. Fundamental to the food we eat is the quality, the affordability, the safety, the access and the security of that food.

Before I move into the details of a national food plan, I want to recognize an organization that has contributed a lot to developing this idea, FoodShare of Toronto. Debbie Field and her team understand the importance of a healthy food system to a healthy society. The team works each day to make sure that low income families, seniors and children have access to nutritious, affordable, safe and high quality food. They distribute the good food box to thousands of residents throughout Toronto. We salute them for their work.

Food is a key determinant of our health as a society and the production, distribution, ownership and control of our food system is something which my colleagues and I are very excited about presenting today through a national food plan.

We must begin with the source of our food, and of course that is the farm. I begin by discussing that source and the beleaguered state of the family farm in Canada. I will describe the loss of our processing sector and conclude by outlining some of the key components.

The farm crisis in the country is real. Never during times of prosperity have we seen a farm crisis of this magnitude. Some people blame the farmers. The message is that farm incomes are low because farmers are doing something wrong. Today the reality is that farmers are growing chick peas and lentils, they are raising wild boar, they are using genetically engineered seeds and high tech seeding equipment, but for all of this investment and innovation farmers have been rewarded with the lowest net farm incomes since the 1930s.

The farm crisis is hitting farmers all around the world, so that when one looks at the worldwide nature of this crisis it is hard to believe that our Canadian farmers are to blame or that our farmers alone can solve the problem. We must be aware that farmers are not the entire agricultural community. Farmers are one part of the larger agri-food sector, which includes input manufacturers, food processors, meat packers, restaurant owners and others.

Just think about the food processing sector. From milling to malt, from pasta to beef packing, foreign ownership and control of our food processing has been increasing. The global agricultural system is not serving our farmers as predicted nor is it serving the Canadian economy. It is not serving Canadian consumers either. For example, the price of corn has not changed in 20 years, but the price of corn flakes has tripled. Wheat prices have not changed either, but bread prices have tripled. This says something about the efficiency of our farmers.

Canada's farmers are so efficient that they can produce food for the same prices they did 25 years ago. In contrast, processors and retailers have tripled the prices they charge for their services.

Canada's food system, indeed the world's food system, while working to the benefit of some, is not working to the benefit of everyone, least of all family farms. The main reason I believe that we are in this position is because we do not have a national food plan. A national food plan is central in renewing the health care system of the country.

We need a plan that will safeguard the family farm, maintain Canadian ownership of our strategic food processing sector; one which will create jobs, protect food safety and ensure that farmers receive a fair share of the consumer's grocery store dollar. We need a food plan that puts the needs and interests of farm families and the urban families who eat the food at the forefront of our concerns.

First, we need to maintain Canadian control of key industries. Canada is about to lose its railways. We may also lose control of our grain companies. We are down to one company that is making tractors in this country. It is outrageous with the land mass we have and our commitment to agriculture that we may soon cease to make our own tractors.

Former Conservative Alberta Premier Lougheed recognized that in a recent speech when he said “Democratic control requires control over one's economy”. We are losing that control. We must take immediate and decisive action, both with regard to agriculture and the larger Canadian economy.

We must act now and immediately to renew the Competition Act. That act must assess large investments in Canada on the basis of their effects on Canada's farmers and Canada's food production system. To remain within the parameters of existing and international trade agreements we must use the tax system to create incentives for broad based co-operative ownership of vital food processing companies, co-operative ownership by Canadian farmers and consumers. This would ensure that these companies remain Canadian owned and controlled. This is central and this is related to the redesign and reconstruction of the health care system in this country.

With regard to our railways, the federal government should examine its options under the existing trade agreements. Canadian railways transport our food, serve remote communities, act as a link in our national defence system and transport Canadian minerals and forestry products. Surely when it comes to key strategic infrastructure such as our railways the Canadian government has options other than merely watching helplessly as those companies pass from Canadian hands.

Another component of our national food plan would be to ensure that farmers receive a fair share of the consumer's grocery store dollar or the restaurant dollar. There are several ways to do this. As a first step, one which will cost little or nothing, I would propose legislation which requires that every grocery item bear a prominent label listing the farmer's share of the retail price. I believe that Canadians would form a new understanding of the farm income crisis if they were reminded every day that the farmer gets only a nickel from the $1.40 loaf of bread and only 14 cents on a $15 case of beer.

I want to salute a former minister of agriculture who is in our Chamber today, the hon. Ralph Ferguson, for all the tremendous work he has done on “Compare the Share” in Canada. It has just been unbelievable. We challenge the grocers of Canada to deal with the challenge of giving the farmers their share.

The linkage between food and health care is undeniable. Because I have only had 10 minutes today, I want to refer listeners to our website, www.nationalfoodplan.com, because I am hoping that Canadians will realize that as we rebuild the health care system we must have a sound system for food in this country.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Diane St-Jacques Progressive Conservative Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member speaking about the health care system and nutrition. We know that a good diet is necessary to prevent disease. This is prevention, and I agree that it is important for future generations.

But are there any solutions for those who are sick right now, those who are waiting in emergency rooms, those for whom there are no beds, the sickest members of our society? Does his government have any solutions for existing problems?

This is very serious and if the necessary action is not taken today, we will no longer have a health care system ten years from now. I would like my colleague's comments on this.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member for Shefford.

First, I have been listening to the debate in the House today and I listened last week when we talked about challenging the renewal of the health care system. It seems to me that the debate has always emphasized that the Government of Canada should simply write cheques to the provinces. I do not believe that is the way to go. As we design a new health care system in this country, those issues around prevention, causing Canadians to become more physically fit, would reduce health care costs dramatically.

Surgeons appeared before the committee last year and they told us that for every 10% of Canadians who increased their physical activity we could decrease health costs by about $5 billion annually.

The importance of nutritious, healthy food is a challenge in the country because, by and large, we are all insensitive to the issue.

As we begin this exchange and the resolution of our health care system, it is important for the government to send signals to the provinces that prevention must be very high on the list. I believe that in the area of prevention called the food we eat, we have to repair and rebuild our food source, and that is the family farm of this country. I appeal to the member from the Progressive Conservative Party to join us and help us build a national food plan which will be the envy of the world.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's comments. My concern is that we are seeing more and more of our country being taken over by foreign investment. It has jumped sixfold in the last couple of years.

I do not disagree about writing cheques, but I wonder whether anybody will be able to write a cheque in this country because all of the profits and all of the good jobs will be south of the line.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I feel that this is a very important question and I would ask the indulgence of the House to let me have a little more than 40 seconds to answer it.

The member has recognized a very important point, which is that the food processing sector in this country has reached a level of offshore ownership which, in my view, is quite scary. Foreign control is over 90%. We are going to have to enter a very rigorous debate on how we can stall and reclaim our control of these strategic industries within the guidelines of those trade agreements that exist. I know that the member thinks that would be a real challenge.

Mr. Speaker, this is critical for the way we go as a nation, so please let me answer this. I think that all of us in the House have to look at every clause in every one of those trade agreements and see how within those trade agreements we can use things like tax law and other instruments that we have to make sure that the trajectory totally changes on it and we reclaim it.