I hear my friend from Prince Edward Island say that I was not listening. I was listening very carefully, and I know that the farmers in Prince Edward Island are listening tonight too and still wondering when the federal government will step in and help them, as their own provincial government has done in the present crisis they are facing. They are asking if their help will come before Easter or after Easter. Hopefully it will come very soon. Whether it will be the Easter bunny or not who delivers the help to them, I am sure they certainly will need it.
The farmers in western Canada are listening tonight and wondering where the solutions are. We hear the problems being raised and enunciated on both sides, but we hear the excuses being given about all the government is doing, which is a sign that it intends to do very little to help them in their present crisis.
There are two things we have to look at. One is a long term plan for farming. In my own province of Newfoundland, the farming industry is also basically neglected by governments, both federal and provincial, yet dairy farming is an extremely important, lucrative industry. We do have plenty of land for vegetable farming. We do have people growing specialty crops and doing very well, but very little attention is being paid to the agricultural industry.
If somebody comes in and wants to create a few new jobs with a call centre or some other weird and wonderful idea, governments flock in with all kinds of handouts. The fly-by-nights come in, grab the money, last a few months and then are gone. Yet our own solid industries, our own solid working people who can create all kinds of new jobs in industries like the agricultural industry, get absolutely no encouragement and no help. These things have to change. That is where the long term plan comes in.
However, the immediate plan that is needed right now is immediate action to help farmers who need help today, not tomorrow, not next month or not the month after. They are preparing now for spring planting and if these farmers do not receive help, if they do not receive a cash injection immediately, this coming year is shot. If this year is shot for them, the same thing will happen to farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario that happened to fisherfolk in rural Newfoundland. They will pack up and leave the rural areas to find work somewhere else. The primary resource, the food producing areas in the country, will die, and we know what happens when food is not produced. More than the areas die. People die also.
I will conclude with words from a song by a great Canadian singer and songwriter, Murray McLauchlan. It is called The Farmer's Song . He talks about “these days when everybody's taking so much, somebody's putting back in”. The farmer is the one putting back in and perhaps it is time we here in this great establishment recognize that.