Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back and see you after the summer. I hope all members had as much fun in their constituencies this summer as I had.
In my constituency we ended the summer by having the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride entertain five times in the space of 10 days. I was fortunate enough to attend all of them. The people who sponsored the musical ride did a great service for the youth of Canada. The youth were able to attend the morning programs and it was a tremendous summer.
During the summer people invited me to their wedding anniversaries and family reunions. I had the pleasure of attending the 60th anniversary ceremony in Dieppe. I was proud to lay the wreath at the monument in honour of the South Saskatchewan Regiment. Most of the members of that regiment came from my constituency. It was with humility that I was able to walk among the graves and look at the tombstones and recognize a name from the offspring and kinfolk still living in my constituency. I was thankful for that opportunity.
Members do not usually receive many compliments in the House. We receive a lot of jabs here and there, but the other night I received a compliment. It was not directed at me personally and it was not meant to be a compliment. A member from the other side of the House while speaking referred to Texas cowboy thinking. The member was referring to the President of the United States.
The member then made reference to those on this side of the House and this party as cowboy thinkers. That is one of the best compliments I have had for a long time. I grew up with cowboys. There are certain characteristics of cowboys that are right on. When a cowboy says “yes, sir”, he means “yes, sir”. When he says “no, ma'am”, he means no. When cowboys make a deal they shake hands and that is the deal. They do not have to go to a lawyer with a bunch of paper and all the rest. That is cowboy thinking and that is what I grew up with.
I was not insulted by the remark. I took that as an extreme compliment. For example, if I were to ask my neighbour when I was farming, “How much would it cost me to have the hay cut on that piece of land?” If it was a long way from where he was, I would say, “Just give me a third and let me know how many bales and we will figure out a price”. That is cowboy thinking. People are respected and their word is respected.
Many people told me this summer, no matter where I went, that Parliament was not for them any more. The people do not respect Parliament any more. Then I pick up the Ottawa Citizen and it says, “Canadians don't trust government. They feel alienated.”
Where I come from, the home of some great cowboys, some of them still living, we trusted cowboys. We trusted them when we were at school. We trusted them to their word. I would trust that person who wanted to buy the hay from me. We would trust each other and agree to what was fair and reasonable and we would shake hands.
I spent a lot of time last session on the environment committee before the House prorogued. The committee members were great people to work with. We had a great chairman and we got along fine. We spent many hours together. We then found out that the Prime Minister did not even trust us. He chucked most of the amendments we made. In cowboy country that is not fair. Pure and simple, that was just not fair.
All that the opposition, these cowboy thinkers over here, asked for in the way of remuneration for land is the same as the fellow who wanted to buy my hay. We asked the government, to proceed if it had to expropriate land, for a fair and reasonable compensation. I want to ask the House, was that too much to ask for in the bill that if land was expropriated that landowners would receive fair and reasonable compensation? I do not find that difficult to understand.
I want to touch on something else that bothered me and it was in the cruelty to animals bill, Bill C-15B. I know what was said. Many of the government members were going to vote against the bill. There was no question. Everyone on this side of the House knew that. I will tell members something about cowboys. If people are cruel to animals they are going to hear from a cowboy. Do not mistreat an animal such as a horse, a cow or any animal. If the member is referring to us as being cowboy thinkers, we truly are. However, all that we asked to be included in the bill was that those animal practices that had been carried on for over a century would not be considered as being cruel to animals. That is all a cowboy or a rancher would ask.
It is easy to put that into the legislation. It would not have to come back. We would agree to both bills if all that was put in. That was it. Now government members are calling us cowboy thinkers on this side. We have all had this before. We are asking why we have to keep telling them the same thing. All we want is fair and reasonable settlement or compensation. It is that simple.
I will let members in on a little secret. I went out to visit some burrowing owls the other day. The neighbours do not know about it and the guy whose property they are on trusts me. I am a cowboy with cowboy thinking. Hidden at least four miles from where he lives, he has 30 or 40 burrowing owls fenced off. I asked him if he had reported this and he had not. He wanted to protect them his way. He told me his neighbour had the owls which the authorities found out about. They put a sign up, went through every gate, left them open and even caused a fire in one area. He was not willing to tell the authorities where his owls were because he was not using the land and wanted to protect them himself.
These cowboys have been protecting the environment long before Saskatchewan became a province. We have had practices of dehorning and branding. All the legislation had to say was that in Bill C-15B “normal animal husbandry practices will not be part of this bill”.
I took some kids to the circus. I found out the Rotary Club, which puts on the circus, has had warnings from the animal rights people that this may be its last circus.
Somebody who spoke this morning mentioned PETA and how its members have been allowed to go to schools telling children that milk is not good for them and by drinking milk they are causing pain to the cow. I have milked a few cows. One cow I had would stand at the barn and bawl her head off because she wanted to be milked. My nephew at one time had a large goat herd. They would do the same thing. Yet these people are allowed to go around as a group and tell people that milking cows is painful so we must abolish milk. The ultimate goal of the animal rights people is to shut down the Calgary Stampede. We heard about it this summer.
Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B have no business being brought back to the House at all. They should have been passed a long time ago. What happened when the backbenchers supported the cruelty to animals bill? The government said that the Senate would change it. When the press release came out the Senate said it did not take orders from anybody, and it does not. The bill was not amended and it will come back from the Senate. If these cowboy thinkers over on this side of the House still do not agree with the bill, it is very simple, it could be flawed.
When I think back to the people I know who were called cowboys, some of them have received the Order of Canada. One cowboy I know was at Dieppe. He was captured and spent two years in a prison camp. He is a great deep thinker. All of these people I know at whom the Liberals want to point their fingers are honest, people of integrity, who think things out carefully, are respectful of their neighbours, and are always willing to help their neighbours. I hope somebody calls me a cowboy thinker again, because I would really be proud of that.
Members might be interested to know that after all the hubbub about the gophers and how barbaric we were, I found out that, despite the fact that there was a contest, fewer gophers were shot this year than ever. However I must show members my new award. It is on a hat. I have now become the official gopher herder. I am proud of that because this House and the people who phoned in did not know that gophers could be herded.
What bothers me is that if the government had amended Bill C-5 or included our recommendations in Bill C-5 it would have been law by now. It would have been passed. If the government had done what we recommended with C-15B, it too would have been law by now.
Members should not blame the official opposition for the non-passage of the two bills in the first place. It is incorrect because in committee and many times in the House we agreed that nobody was more against animal cruelty than the cowboy thinkers, nobody. We do not tolerate it. At the same time if it is not possible to persuade the people on that side that they are listening to lobby groups, they should go out there and talk to cowboys, for goodness sake. It will do their hearts good.
As the official gopher herder and as a cowboy of notoriety, I want to assure members that I will continue to be proud of the cowboy heritage and of cowboy thinking.