House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was foundation.


EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, on March 2 I questioned the government's ability to provide agriculture solutions for Canadian farmers, and that question remains unanswered.

Last week we learned that the government had no solution for short term farm aid when it refused to vote for additional funding. Over the years we have seen a lack of coherent agriculture policy, which has culminated in the AIDA program, a program that is complicated. It has taken accountants and AIDA employees many hours to put the program together and we still have a lack of ability to deal with the program and to understand it.

AIDA is a program that has been slow. People have waited up to 18 months for their payment. It is a program that has been inefficient. I had an accountant tell me that he thought the government was probably throwing the applications down a set of stairs and picking one or two out of the pile. That was as much sense as he could make out of the government's response to the applications.

AIDA has also been bureaucratic to the nth degree: new employees, revisiting files, combining files without consultation with producers, and demanding clawbacks from farmers up to 18 months later. AIDA has not been a long term solution for farm families.

I am also concerned that the government is not ready to deal with or provide a solution to another problem, and that is the threat of foot and mouth disease.

The Canadian Alliance has grave concerns about the government's ability to react. This is a viral disease that spreads rapidly and is highly contagious. It is a viral disease. We know it can survive and can be transported on clothing. It is deadly to the cattle industry wherever it has shown up. We must prevent the disease from coming to Canada. I would like to suggest some ways of doing that and suggest some things on which the government could improve.

We would like to see the government immediately initiate an education program. Travellers who are coming to and from Canada must have information about the disease. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and its employees need to have information on the disease. People who are working at airports need to understand the importance of dealing with it. The general public are calling us constantly and they also need to be educated.

Farmers and ranchers also need to be educated. They need to understand that they can be part of the solution by being careful as to who has access to their places and to their herds.

The former Texas agriculture commissioner, Jim Hightower, said at one time that “there ain't nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”. The government needs to get going. It cannot sit in the middle of the road on this issue.

There is also the inspection issue. Does the government have enough staff and field personnel in both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the customs agency to deal with the problem? The government must increase the number of personnel if they are needed. Do we have enough sniffer dogs? When we talk to field people, they say no. We saw a news report this afternoon with some vets who have been in Britain and they also say no.

The cost of ensuring that the disease is stamped out is far less than dealing with it once it gets here. Is the government ready to act effectively? It is important that it begin to move on this. It cannot blame the opposition. It needs to make the right responses. If it makes inadequate or wrong decisions on this matter, it will cost billions.

I am asking the government if it has a solution for young people trying to do the right thing. A number of school groups are cancelling their trips and are facing a loss of their deposits. I call on the government to treat these young people properly. What will it do to provide these young people with a solution to this problem?

Is the government prepared to provide a solution for families and for young people with regard to the foot and mouth disease crisis?

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington Ontario


Larry McCormick LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide some more information on the main estimates to my colleague from the great riding of Cypress Hills—Grasslands and a colleague who is a very valuable member of our all party Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

I am new at being a parliamentary secretary, but it is very human that we would make some changes on the road. However, my colleague tabled his question and then things changed. However, I know my colleague is very interested in the main estimates because that is what he questioned the minister on.

As the minister has said on several occasions since the main estimates were tabled, the budget allocated to farm income has not been reduced for 2001-02. On the contrary, we have increased our funding commitments to farmers. Over the next three years we committed to inject up to $3.3 billion into farm safety net systems. As well, on March 1 the minister announced additional funding of $500 million, a half a billion dollars more, which brings the total federal commitment to $3.8 billion.

The year 2000 was a transition year. The 2000-01 main estimates of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada had to account for both AIDA and our new program CFIP. This was done in accordance with the Government of Canada's accounting practices which required departments to recognize liabilities in the year the decision was made to incur them. Since CFIP started in the 2000 tax year, the budget allocated to that year of the program was recorded in the 2000-2001 main estimates.

As I stated before, the Government of Canada is committed and remains committed to the farmers of this great country.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question earlier was for the minister in relation to a request from Quebec for an allocation of 6,000 metric tonnes of shrimp. I asked the minister at the time to reject the request in light of the implications. The answer I was given by the parliamentary secretary, who will undoubtedly re-answer my question this evening, was that they would look at it in light of their usual policies.

That scares me because when I asked the same minister a question last spring about whether or not he planned to give an allocation of shrimp to P.E.I., he gave me the same type of answer. The next day he gave an allocation of 1,500 metric tonnes to Prince Edward Island.

I have absolutely no problem with giving shrimp to Quebec if there were extra shrimp to give away. I would not mind giving it shrimp if it gave us some of their power. I would not mind giving it shrimp if it gave us back some of our power.

In this case the beneficiaries of any resource, especially the fishery, should be those closest to it and that is the people adjacent to it. That is why we talk about the principle of adjacency.

In this case there are the fish plants. Let us forget about the buildings. There are workers in the riding that the parliamentary secretary represents who, since the collapse of the ground fishery in our province, have been existing on meagre resources. Shrimp could enhance their employment opportunities.

There are participants in the fishery already. The larger boats that involved and that started the shrimp fishery in our province, perhaps the most viable and profitable way of harvesting shrimp in certain areas, could certainly use more of the resource to make their efforts viable.

The 65 and under fleet will tell us it is not getting enough quotas to make it worthwhile gearing up to prosecute the fishery. We have a number of small plants throughout the province that, through the moratorium crisis, kept their doors open without one cent from government. They were the only ones who received no benefit from NCARP and TAGS. These private operators stayed, along with small co-operatives, and kept their operations going on their own backs. These people have been looking for quotas and have been rejected.

There are many needs around the province adjacent to the resource and if there are extra resources that is where they should go.

We know the shrimp stocks are supposedly in good shape. We know that next year or the year after there will be undoubtedly an increased quotas. If that is the case it should go to those who are already involved to make their operations viable, and then to the others who are adjacent to the resource and who will benefit more from it. If there is more above and beyond that then we have no problems with sharing. However we have to look after ourselves first, especially in light of what we have gone through in my province over the last few years.

I hope the member when he stands to answer the question will recognize that the minister has already made a commitment. The minister had made a commitment to the union, to the minister of fisheries in Newfoundland and to the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador that we will not see any new entrants into the industry until his present policy review has taken place.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador


Lawrence O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has raised a question about requests from the province of Quebec for additional access to northern shrimp, particularly an allocation of 6,000 tonnes in this year's fishery. He raised his question against the backdrop of last year's debate over the decision to provide access to northern shrimp to fisheries interests from P.E.I.

The allocation of a valuable, abundant common property resource is always controversial. The issue is likely to be controversial again in 2001. However in making a decision for 2001 the minister will be guided, as he was last year, first by science and second by input from stakeholders.

The scientific advice last year for northern shrimp stock off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador was very clear. It indicated that the stock was in good shape with a very high and stable abundance of shrimp. This advice was considered by fisheries managers, industry stakeholders and provincial representatives at the annual northern shrimp advisory committee.

After careful consideration of all views and consistent with the scientific advice, the minister concluded that a quota of 3,000 tonnes was warranted. This enabled harvesters to take advantage of the high abundance while it was available. He also concluded that assignment of some of the increase to non-adjacent fisheries was warranted.

In conclusion, I say to the hon. member that the minister will await the recommendations of the report of an independent panel examining access criteria. That report is expected in June. As always, consideration for the well-being of the fishery resource, the need for a sustainable fishery and the principle of fairness and adjacency will be considered.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, at the end of February I asked a question in the House of Commons about the 1999 Marshall decision.

In the last week of February the federal government bought approximately four crab fishing boats in the area of the Acadian peninsula, which resulted in the layoff of dockhands working on these boats and threatened approximately some 35 jobs in fish processing plants for each boat sold.

On the day in question the Minister of the Environment replied:

Mr. Speaker, I am troubled by the hon. member's misunderstanding of the situation. The situation is very clearly a voluntary program where people have the right to sell something that they own to the government for the purposes that he described.

I think it would be most unfortunate if he wishes to give the impression that his party would prevent a voluntary sale by a willing seller to a willing buyer.

Such a response from a minister is incredible. If anyone has misunderstood, it is the Liberals across the way.

It is unacceptable to come to the Acadian peninsula to sort out a problem with the aboriginal peoples, because of the Marshall decision; to want to buy boats at prices of upward of $2 million; to lay off dockhands, with the result that plant employees are in danger of losing their jobs; and not to take that into consideration.

I spoke with a man who telephoned me one evening. He had already been holed up in his house for two days. He was crying like a baby because he had lost his job after 28 years of service for an employer, a fisher, a boat captain. The fellow did not know how to read or write. He told me that he was going to lose his house and his car, everything. That is the problem. The government did not take this into account when buying up crab fishing licences. It is unacceptable and inhuman.

The problems of one people cannot be settled by creating a problem for another people. That is not the way to do things. The result will be divisions between peoples, quarrels and battles. It will bring people into the streets. This is unacceptable.

I do not know whether the parliamentary secretary will give me a ready-made answer. I do not know what his response will be.

I am calling upon the government to shoulder its responsibilities for the good of the people in the region I represent, for the fishers and the plant workers.

Buying a boat or something else on a voluntary basis is acceptable, but when the government uses the taxpayers' money to make purchases like this one, putting people out, then I say the way it was done is unacceptable. No program was put in place to look after these families who are now suffering because of the federal government. This is unacceptable.

Once again, therefore, I call upon the government to assume its responsibilities. I wrote the minister of fisheries on February 28, and here we are at March 28 and still no answer.

In our area the people live in fear of what is going to happen, fear for their future. The newspapers reflect that fear every day. People are meeting but no solutions are being found.

I will close on this point. I am anxious to hear the parliamentary secretary's response. I am anxious to see what the Liberal government will have to say about the mess it has created in our area and the other mess it is in the process of stirring up between peoples, between the aboriginal people and the people of the Acadian peninsula.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador


Lawrence O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the member has raised a question concerning licence requirements under the Marshall process.

As part of the response to the Marshall decision in the Supreme Court of Canada, the government entered into a fisheries access program on the recommendations of the standing committee and at the request of the fishing industry.

The program involves the voluntary retirement of existing commercial fishing licences and/or vessels and gear. The program facilitates the voluntary retirement of commercial licences and the issuance of licences to eligible aboriginal groups in a manner that does not add to the existing fishing effort on the resource.

The recently announced longer term Marshall process has as one of its components a continuation of the licence retirement program. The member has expressed concern over lost jobs for deckhands and fish plant workers who were displaced when licence holders retired their licences under the Marshall program.

The government is fully aware of these concerns. Unemployment is not just an economic issue. It also has very real emotional impacts for individual people and the communities they live in. The federal and provincial governments of Canada understand the implications of losing jobs.

I wish to say before my time expires that the important point is that in addition to working with other departments, particularly HRDC, the minister spoke to his counterpart in the New Brunswick government, the Hon. Paul Robichaud, on the issue of crab and lobster crew members displaced as a result of licence retirement under the Marshall program.

As a result, the federal-provincial committee on snow crab crew members has been established. The committee will meet for the first time on March 20.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.43 p.m.)