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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, a lot of my friends who have been in public life before have always said that the second term is always more enjoyable. If I get more members on the other side leading with their chins like that, it will indeed be that much more enjoyable.

Mr. Flip-Flop, as we refer to him right now, understands that economies such as Great Britain, the United States and most of the industrialized nations were in a worldwide recession at that time. The only reason we are in a surplus position right now is because of initiatives brought forward by the Progressive Conservatives.

I would remind the member that when he was the chair for the Brian Mulroney campaign he actually had some good sense. The initiative that was brought forth during that era was something called the free trade agreement. Some of my colleagues here might remember that.

We left a legacy for this country in terms of economics. In 1988 our trade with the Americans was about $90 billion. Compliments of the free trade agreement, today trade with Americans is $320 billion.

I am not advocating that we go back into a deficit scenario, because systematically what this country needs is a debt repayment schedule. That is the least that we owe future generations.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, as I would say in your native language, evha risto and kali nehta to you as well.

I heard the member of the Conservative Party talk about health care, education and the environment. I was just about to sign him up for the NDP because those are what we have been preaching about for years and years. It is nice to see them turn on the light.

He keeps harping on about the great amount of trade we have done with the United States and what a great thing it is for Canada. The fact is that child poverty has increased in Canada. When they were in government in 1989 Ed Broadbent moved a motion in the House to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000 that was agreed to by all parliamentarians.

Regardless of free trade, NAFTA, deficits, debts and surpluses, child poverty has increased by four times. The Conservatives were in government for four of the years. The Liberals were in government for nine of those years.

The fact is the throne speech is silent on what they will do to help the children and the parents to get out of child poverty. What immediate answers does my good colleague from Fundy—Royal, in the beautiful province of New Brunswick, have to address those serious issues at this very important time?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, the question is quite long to give an appropriate response. Clearly we should be sending some signals such as raising the basic personal exemptions for working poor individuals. It sends a very wrong signal that we tax individuals who make about $14,000 less than the poverty line. Raising the basic personal exemption would be a step in the right direction.

There are some other things we should be doing, such as doing away with the HST and GST on home heating fuel. Those are the kind of initiatives that we should be doing. We should be doing those initiatives rather than sending a fuel rebate tax to prisoners.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on your new appointment. I know that your experience in parliament and all the work that you have done will lead you as an excellent Speaker in the House. I look forward to listening to you and working with you throughout this parliament.

I thank my constituents in Chatham—Kent Essex. I appreciate the support they have given me in returning me to the House. I know that I will work as hard as I can to help with the confidence they have given to me and the Liberal Party in returning a Liberal government for a third mandate. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

As I listened to the comments made by hon. members in response to the Speech from the Throne I was struck by the comment made by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that reducing taxes and debt and investing in the needed economic and social infrastructure were complementary goals. By reducing taxes, reducing the debt, invigorating our economy and increasing revenues, it is with an invigorating type of fiscal position that we can help with social programs for Canadians, social programs that Canadians need.

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for endorsing the Liberal plan. This is exactly the approach the Liberal government has taken. It is an approach that has received overwhelming support from people across Canada in three successive elections. The Liberal vision has long been based on striking the right balance between prudent fiscal management and smart investments in key economic and social priorities.

This vision has served Canada extremely well. It is no coincidence that for the past seven years in a row the United Nations has proclaimed Canada as the best place in the world to live. There is absolutely no question that since 1993 our nation has come the distance step by step.

In 1993 our public finances were in a mess, with spiralling debt, a record $42 billion deficit, high interest rates, combined with more than an 11% unemployment rate and continuous tax increases.

Together we have eliminated the $42 billion deficit we inherited and the Liberal government has recorded three consecutive surpluses. Last year we reduced the national debt by more than $12 billion, the largest paydown in Canadian history.

The Speech from the Throne reaffirms our commitment to rock solid, prudent, fiscal management. Our extraordinary fiscal turnabout has allowed us to introduce the largest tax cut in Canadian history of some $100 billion. This means more money in the pockets of every Canadian, particularly moderate and middle income Canadians.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 6.8%, its lowest level in over two decades. Over two million new jobs have been created under the Liberal government.

Canada's economy is doing well. In fact our economy is enjoying the longest run of growth since the sixties. At the same time the Liberal government has been investing in our youth, our children, our families, health care, knowledge, innovation, infrastructure and environment. Together we have built a strong foundation, but we cannot rest on our achievements. We must and will do more.

Many challenges and opportunities lie ahead for us as we enter the new millennium. We will continue to build a stronger Canada, secure a higher quality of life for all Canadians and ensure all citizens have a chance to participate fully in making our society the best it can be.

Our success today and in the future is in the hands of our children. The Liberal government takes this investment seriously with the early childhood development agreement and the national child benefit, and by doubling the length of maternity and parental benefits our investments in families and children have been second to none.

The government believes there is no higher priority than the welfare of Canada's children. That is why in the throne speech we have committed to developing new measures to help single parents, to working with provinces to modernize the laws for child support, custody and access, and to improve the support to parents and caregivers in times of family crisis.

Our health care system is also cherished by Canadians. Canada's health care system embodies the values we share as a nation. It reflects a society that is caring and compassionate with a strong sense of justice. It provides quality service to all citizens, not just those who can afford to pay for it.

The recent health action plan agreement, agreed to by all first ministers, marked a historic step forward to renew our health care system for the 21st century. The Speech from the Throne echoes the deep commitment of the Liberal government to universal, publicly funded health care, to upholding the principles of the Canada Health Act, and to ensuring our system better meets the needs of Canadians.

The Liberal government plans to invest in health care more than $21 billion over five years, including $8 billion in Ontario. This means shorter waiting lists, more doctors and nurses, better delivery services and improved access. This is important for all Canadians, especially those who live in rural and remote areas.

Another aspect of the throne speech which is of particular relevance to rural Canadians, including those of my own riding, is the government's pledge to help Canada's agricultural sector move beyond crisis management.

Many farmers are facing a crisis beyond their control. High foreign subsidies and historically low prices are making it difficult for farmers to survive and compete. It is incumbent upon us to commit to doing more to support our farmers to enable them to compete on equal footing with their American and European counterparts.

Many Canadians face the challenges of this intense competition. We live in a fast paced, technology driven, global economy. The government has developed bold programs to ensure that all Canadians have access to the education, tools and information they need to develop skills that are in demand. Prospering in an economy requires being connected to the technologies that will drive the future.

To date our government has achieved an enormous success with initiatives such as SchoolNet and community access programs which help communities, public schools and libraries across Canada get on line.

Many communities in my riding, including Blenheim, Chatham, Highgate, Leamington, Merlin, Ridgetown, Tilbury and Wheatley, have benefited from the national strategy for connecting Canadians across the country. I am pleased to see that the federal government will continue to support this strategy and build on its progress.

The throne speech sets forth bold goals in the areas of skills and lifelong learning as well as research and development. We intend at least to double the current federal investment in research and development by the year 2010. Over the next five years we will help at least one million more Canadian adults take advantage of learning opportunities and improve their skills.

We will make it easier for Canadians to finance their learning by creating the registered individual learning accounts. By supporting our youth employment programs we will help our young people make the transition from school to work where they can apply their creative talents. By working with our partners we will assist persons with disabilities who face barriers to full participation in our economy and society. We will invest aggressively in the skills and talents of Canadians to ensure that no one is left behind.

Building a skilled workforce also requires attracting skilled labour from abroad. I am pleased the government intends to reintroduce changes to the immigration legislation. It wants to facilitate the entry of temporary workers to allow for the immediate needs of employers to be met very quickly. It also wants to modernize the system to attract the world's best and brightest to Canada. Canada is a nation of immigrants. It is a country that was built by immigrants, and everyone knows that diversity has made Canada strong and will continue to make us strong.

Strong communities are the goal of the Liberal government and continued work to make our communities strong is the goal the Liberal government will attempt to achieve over its mandate. The throne speech makes it clear that every Canadian should have the opportunity to share in the prosperity of the country. We will do our best to make sure that happens for every Canadian.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about agriculture. There is one sentence in the throne speech about agriculture and it referred to moving beyond crisis management. What is meant by the phrase moving beyond crisis management? No one from the Prime Minister downward has specified exactly what that means.

Would the member explain what he thinks it means? Also, would he be specific on what steps the government is taking to move beyond the income crisis that we are in today?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we look at Canada's safety nets we look at the programs that have been developed and the programs that have evolved over the last many years. The programs have been focused on crisis management, the management of time when there is a great deal of problem. We have not really taken the lead in moving beyond that.

Canada must take steps with our international partners to make sure that rules for fair trade, rules for access to products of other countries and rules of subsidies need to be challenged and need to be met. There is no question that we need to set agreements that will ensure our farm community has the right and the opportunity to compete on an equal footing and on an equal basis.

When we talk about the kinds of strategies that are needed, the Prime Minister had the opportunity to talk quickly with the new President of the United States this week to bring forward some of the issues that have to do with trading in softwood lumber, industry or agriculture.

The fact is that Canada has farmers who are technically well advanced in production, who have a tremendous ability to produce food, and who are under the gun in unfair trade subsidies at this point in time. We have always arrived at situations where our farm community or others have run into those kinds of pressures and problems. I believe going beyond crisis management means that we manage a program that puts them on a fair footing with everybody else in the world, and that is most important. I have not met one farmer who does not want the opportunity to farm and compete on an equal square footing base with everyone else. That is what our farm community is demanding. That is what our Liberal government must deliver.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that 22,000 prairie farm families left the farm just last year alone.

Who does the member think the future farmers of the country will be? Will it be the children of those farmers who have left or will it be the corporate farms that are coming on stream very quickly?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I obviously cannot identify exactly who will be farming what areas in the country. I can say that there has been a major problem in the oilseeds industry.

There is no question that grains and oilseeds have taken the brunt of difficult times. First, the prices have been low. Second, the competition has been difficult and American and European subsidies have distorted the markets and the farmers' abilities to get a proper price out of the commodities they sell. Third, Canadian food prices are lower than anywhere else in the world. However, it is very clear and important to realize that we have to negotiate agreements in agriculture that will put our Canadian farmers back on track in a fair, competitive face.

I do not think for one minute that anyone is ignoring this issue. It is a matter of bringing people to the table. In the past it has always been a competition where larger countries such as the United States—

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment.

It is a pleasure to take part in this historic throne speech debate as we set a course for the new millennium. I first want to express my appreciation to the constituents of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex for their continued support on my third consecutive election. They can rest assured that I will continue to put their views and concerns first and foremost.

In this, my maiden speech in the 37th parliament, I want express my sincere thanks to my family, Terry, Sandy, Michelle, Paul and my husband Louis for their dedication and support. Without them I could not do this job. To my friends, my staff, my campaign team and to the many volunteers who believe in me and continue to believe in me and support me, I certainly appreciate it.

This throne speech proposes an action plan to move Canada forward as a nation that creates opportunity, rewards excellence and ensures all citizens are full participants. We will focus on our efforts of ensuring that all share in the benefits of a strong economy and to create a workforce that is ready to meet the challenges of the new economy.

However, it is the current state of agriculture and its future that is most notably on the minds of many of my constituents.

With my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex harvesting more crops than all the maritime provinces combined, agriculture is without a doubt the economic backbone of southern Ontario, indeed Canada.

As agriculture goes, so goes our rural areas. If rural Canada has a future, we must work to ensure a positive future for agriculture.

To put this in perspective for everyone, I will present some numbers to summarize the vital importance of agriculture. For example, of Lambton county's nearly 600,000 acres, 491,000 acres are devoted to growing crops, representing 14% of the total jobs in that county. this results in over $773 million in annual sales. That is nearly a billion dollars of positive economic activity in one county.

The employment and sale expenditure multipliers indicate that for every job in agriculture there are an additional 1.28 jobs outside agriculture, and for each dollar in sales in agriculture there are $1.57 in agriculture related businesses.

Kent county produces 25%, one-quarter of Ontario's total corn crop. In Middlesex county in just one month over 20 million eggs will be produced. There is enough wool produced from sheep each year to knit 19,000 sweaters. The swimming pool at the London Aquatic Centre holds nearly one million gallons of water. There is enough milk produced in the county of Middlesex each year to fill 22 pools that size.

Almost 4,500 acres of land are used to grow fruit such as peaches, pears, cherries, grapes and strawberries. Most of us enjoy a good steak. There are 13,500 beef cattle in Middlesex, producing not only meat and milk but car polish, medicine, leather, camera film, crayons, candles and sports equipment.

The feather industry in one county of my riding has nearly two million chickens and turkeys. In all counties of my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, wheat, oats, barley, mixed grains, corn, alfalfa, soybean, tobacco and potatoes are the cash crops which are grown. Bike tires, suntan lotion, toothpaste, fuel, makeup, ink and bread can be made from these crops. Tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and cauliflower are grown as well. Lambton—Kent—Middlesex is truly a diversified riding.

When we talk of a growing economy it means many things. Agriculture is not just food but value added products that we all use in our daily lives whether we live in downtown Vancouver or Toronto or in the villages of Alvinston, Eberts or Melbourne.

Some individuals may be indifferent to the farming crisis. However everyone must recognize the three necessities of life: clean air, clean water, and a safe and abundant food supply. Agriculture is the third largest employer in Canada, generating about $95 billion in domestic retail and food services sales each year. That is why I was pleased to see that agriculture was mentioned in the throne speech last week. It was a recognition of the essential place agriculture has in the economic success of Canada.

I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister state that we must address the subsidy problem. There are problems on the farm. Low commodity prices, coupled with bad weather, high input costs and overproduction due to high subsidies in the U.S. and the European Union, are putting our farmers in a financial vice, wounding the industry by cutting off its circulation as the lifeblood of our rural and urban economies.

The current three year $5.5 billion national safety net agreement is a positive factor in support of our farmers. Our agriculture minister worked very hard with the provinces to finalize this agreement, but we as Liberals know that more must be done. Unless and until the U.S. and EU drop their subsidies, all industries must be treated fairly in the face of international subsidies.

National and provincial farm groups are suggesting that an additional $300 million to the farm safety net for Ontario would be reasonable, with 50% from the federal government. I stress that what is happening today in agriculture has nothing to do with bad farm management decisions. It is out of the farmer's hands.

It is also important to point out that the Ontario government has a role to play here as well. Quebec farm support, for example, is 2.35 times greater than similar funding for income support and stabilization in Ontario. Over the past three years Quebec has spent $457.3 million on farm support. Ontario spent just $194.8 million, and that is going down.

Since 1995 federal support has increased by 85%. We are moving in the right direction. While the current Ontario government spends less than one-half of one per cent of its budget on agriculture, it is eight per cent of Ontario's gross domestic product.

Today, February 6, is Food Freedom Day. It is a day of celebration for those who eat at least once a day, but it is not as happy for those who produce our food.

Today Canadians have earned enough money to pay for their entire year's food supply. It takes just 37 days out of the whole year for the average Canadian consumer to pay for his or her groceries. In 1999 Canadians spent 10% of their personal disposable income on food. That compares to 13% in France, 15% in Germany and 33% in Mexico.

Farmers are earning just a fraction of the average food dollar. While Food Freedom Day is February 6, January 9 is the day on which we have paid for the farmers' amount. That is right. It takes only nine days to pay the farmers for a year's worth of food. Nine cents of a $1.50 loaf of bread is returned to the farmer. Sixteen cents goes to the dairy farmer on a $1.50 glass of milk. A waiter or waitress in a restaurant earns more on tips for serving the food than the farmer who produces it in the first place.

The throne speech of this new session is an important document. While it outlines the goals and proposals of the government on many fronts, it is agriculture that needs our immediate attention.

Our nation is a success, with a strong and viable agriculture industry. Ontario has always been a leader in agricultural production and agribusiness in Canada, and our nation's farmers are the most efficient in the world.

The Liberal government recognizes agriculture's value, not only to the Canadian economy but also to the quality of life in rural communities. I support the action we have taken to support agriculture through research and development, the Canadian adaptation and rural development fund, enhanced farm income programs and support for rural communities through such excellent programs as community futures, but we can and we must do more.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 6 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the amendments now before the house. The question is on the subamendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the subamendment?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the subamendment lost.

The next question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 2Government Orders

February 6th, 2001 / 6:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the amendment negatived.

Ways And MeansGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

moved that a ways and means motion relating to assessments of expenses of a financial consumer agency, notice of which was laid upon the table on Wednesday, January 31, be concurred in.

Ways And MeansGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to the order made on Monday, February 5, 2001, the House will now proceed to the deferred recorded division on ways and means Motion No. 1.

Ways And MeansGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the House would agree I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting in favour.