Mr. Speaker, on September 4, 2001, I wrote to you requesting an emergency agriculture debate for September 17. The tragic and horrific events of September 11 have overshadowed all the other issues that we refer to as domestic issues. Some of these domestic issues have reached the point where many people involved in the industry are now facing a crisis situation. The industry I am talking about is agriculture. I had resubmitted the request to have this crucial debate for the evening of September 26, but once again events in the House resulting from the tragedy of September 11 did not facilitate a ruling on my request.
I still feel that these issues must quickly come before the House of Commons. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 52, I request leave to make the motion for an emergency debate. Mr. Speaker, you have granted me permission to speak requesting this debate for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter, which is the drought and the farm income crisis facing grains and oilseed farmers as well as potato growers.
I would like to point out that the drought is severe and it is national in scope. It is not related to just one area. Environment Canada's senior climatologist has stated that he cannot recall a year when we have had such an extensive drought across the country.
Last year was the eighth driest for southern Alberta since weather records were started in 1886. Only 50 millimetres of rain fell between April and August. The PFRA out of Medicine Hat, Alberta, has stated that 95% of surface water is depleted. In Saskatchewan this was the fifth driest year on record since the 1800s. Waterloo airport is another example. July was its driest month since measurements were first taken at the Waterloo airport over 30 years ago. Nova Scotia has gone through an extensive drought, with vegetable crops being put under.
Many farmers have continued to indicate that the present safety net programs need a lot of revision. By having this debate tonight we can emphasize the crisis we are talking about and provide solutions that cabinet can take note of and which would help alleviate the situation.