Mr. Speaker, it is with great difficulty that I rise in the House again for another emergency debate on agriculture. This is the sixth or seventh emergency debate that I have been involved in on issues involving agriculture in the seven or eight years I have been in the House.
For all of that, can we honestly say that things are any better? The answer is no. In fact things are worse than they have ever been in grain farming. Things have not improved.
Is the problem that members on this side of the House, on the opposition side, just do not care? No, that is not the problem.
Is the problem that members on this side of the House in the opposition parties do not work hard? No, that is not the problem.
Is it that we on this side of the House do not try? No, it is not.
We have just heard from my colleague who gave her presentation. We can tell from what she said that she cares, that she is working hard, and that she has tried. Opposition members of parliament have done their job and they will continue to do their job.
Is the problem that members on the government side do not care? No, I do not believe that for a minute. I do not believe there is one member of parliament in the House who does not care about the situation farmers are in right now.
Is the problem that members on the government side do not work hard? No, that is not the problem. I know and appreciate that members on the government side work very hard.
Is the problem that they do not try? No, it is not. Members on the government side work hard and they do care and they do try.
What is the problem? The problem is for all we care, for all we work hard, for all we try, it does precious little good because the fact is that the government is run by one man. It is run by the Prime Minister. What the Prime Minister says goes. The Prime Minister has not taken it to heart to do something about agriculture.
I heard the member for Malpeque talk earlier about the problems in the department and how public servants are not doing their job. I have some information for him. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that public servants in the departments do their jobs. Public servants work for the government. The problem is that the Prime Minister runs the show and he does not understand what is going on in agriculture.
It is time for members on the government side to take a stand, not just to try hard, not just to care, but to finally take a stand. This is the issue they must take a stand on. We have farmers, as other members have said, who will lose their farms this year. We have thousands who have lost their farms over the past few years.
I farmed for about 25 years. I still have my land. I rent it out on a crop share. I still depend on grain sales to make my payments on the mortgage on my land. I worked as a farm economist with Alberta agriculture for years, along with farming, to help support the farm and because I liked working with farmers.
It was during that time in the late eighties that I sat at the kitchen table with many farmers who were losing their farms. I saw the farm wife and the children in tears because they knew they were about to lose their farm. On many occasions I saw the husband in those situations with a blank look in his eyes because he knew he was about to lose the farm that had been in his family for three or more generations. I lived through this and I hoped and I prayed that I would never live to see it happen again.
I got into politics so I could try to change this situation and do my part to ensure that it would never happen again. I have offered suggestions to the government over and over again. These suggestions have come from farmers across the country, particularly my constituency in Alberta, and from my background in farming and working as a farm economist. Those suggestions have been ignored. My colleagues have done also brought forward suggestions.
It is time for government MPs to take a stand on this issue. This issue is important. The pain that farm families are living through once again is something that should not be happening. We cannot go back, but it is time that members on the government side tell the Prime Minister and cabinet that they are not putting up with it any more.
They should have a say in what the government does and their first say will be on agriculture. It is time for that to happen. I pray that members across the floor will finally take that stand. That is my hope and that is my prayer. I offer that not only from myself, my colleagues and members of the other opposition parties, but from farmers in my constituency, from farmers I have talked with from across Alberta, and from farmers who have contacted me and to whom I have listened from across the country.
It is long enough. It has been eight years. It is long enough. Many members of the governing party have been here eight years. They have been involved in the six, seven or eight emergency debates. They know in their hearts that things are not getting better. I think they know in their hearts that government could do many things that will help make things better. They know that they could act on some of the recommendations that have been made not only by opposition members but by their own members as well.
It is time. Eight years is enough. I encourage and I extend my hand to members of the governing party to stand up on this issue, not to let it just end with the emergency debate but to take the issue to their caucus meeting tomorrow and to the Prime Minister and to say that it is time. On behalf of the farmers who will suffer more and who could be prevented from losing their farms, on behalf of farmers who want to farm for years to come, I ask that all members in the government party now take their stand.
I cannot do more. I have offered what I believe are substantial, very useful solutions for eight years and years before that when I was not here as a member of parliament. Those solutions have not been acted on. All that is left is the members of the governing party. That is all that is left here now. They are the only people who could finally make the change which will keep farmers on the farm. They should make it happen. They are the only ones. I close by asking them to take that stand.