House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.


Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

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.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to rise today to speak to this motion. It is simply designed to allow a minister, during the first thirty sitting days of a new session of Parliament, to ask that a government bill be reinstated, provided it is in the same form as in the previous session. I stress the latter, namely that it has to be in the same form as in the previous session. With the permission of the Speaker, the bill could be reintroduced at the stage to which it had progressed at the time of prorogation. This would allow the various committees to pick up where they left off.

First, it should be noted that such a procedure is not new to this House. Bills have often been reinstated, and even recently. In 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1986 for example, the House unanimously approved motions to reinstate bills. Indeed, one such motion was passed in 1991, under the previous government.

In 1991, a one day prorogation ended the second session of the 34th Parliament, and the third session opened the following day. At that time, two standing committees were reactivated by unanimous consent in order to allow them to finish what they had been mandated to do in the previous session, provided they would cease to exist after their report was tabled. A special joint committee was even reactivated, and two bills were reinstated.

In 1977 and 1982, the House adopted amendments to its Standing Orders to carry over to the next session consideration of a bill. As recently as March 1996, the House adopted a similar motion. Also, in October 1999, the House unanimously passed a motion similar to the one before us today, in order to be able to pick up where it had left off in the previous session.

Finally, the motion put forward today is similar to the provisions of the Standing Orders allowing private members' bills to be reinstated following prorogation.

Clearly, there are many precedents for the procedures put forward today. The government's motivation is equally clear. It wants to set the work of the House and its committees in motion without sacrificing the rights and privileges of parliamentarians.

In fact, this motion would save precious time and spare members work, who would otherwise have to spend time on bills and committee work that had already been studied and adopted. If this motion were adopted, the first result would be substantial and impressive savings in terms of public funds. If the motion were adopted, it would also allow Parliament and committees to devote themselves to what all Canadians consider to be new and important work. Thus the pressing need for such a change. In fact, last summer, when the session ended, more than ten government bills disappeared.

Allow me to list them. These bills are all very important. There was the bill on species at risk, before the Senate; the bill to amend the Criminal Code on cruelty to animals and firearms, also before the Senate; the bill to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, before a committee of the House; the bill to amend the Copyright Act, before the Senate; the pest control products bill, also before the Senate; legislation to promote physical activity and sport, before the Senate; a bill on assisted reproduction, in committee. As a doctor, this bill is very important to me and must be passed, as soon as possible. There is also the specific claims resolution legislation, in committee. Finally, there is the bill on first nations governance, which was also in committee.

If the Standing Orders contained procedures to reinstate legislation, the House and members would have been spared a great many hours. For example, bills having already been passed by the House could have been reinstated and submitted to the Senate without having to debate them or consult again, because all of that work would have been done in the previous session. Bills that had been referred to committee could also be resubmitted, without delay.

The government wants to speed up the business of Parliament, but let us not lose sight of the fact that we have a duty to protect the rights and privileges of members so that they may give careful study to bills, and ensure that the interests of all Canadians are fully represented and protected. The procedures of this motion would not bypass the parliamentary process and no stage would be skipped.

Bills would instead be tabled in the same form and at the same stage as they were before the end of the last session. In this way, no period of consideration and no debate would be eliminated and no opposition critic would, of course, have his time cut short.

Finally, freeing up the House's time with the measures included in this motion would also enable us to keep a closer eye on new measures that might be tabled in future.

Obviously, redoing the work already done on old bills cuts into the time that can be devoted to new ones, and makes us less available to respond to the emergencies that crop up from time to time.

The committees should be able to continue where they left off and move forward from there, without having to start all over again.

This motion is, therefore, essential if we are to make up for lost time on old business and prepare ourselves for the new challenges we are likely to be confronted with in future.

The opposition said that it would oppose the motion, for the sole purpose of delaying the bills that were introduced during the last session.

This is unfair. This is contrary to the practice that has been in effect in the House for the past 30 years. This shows that the opposition does not have any new agenda and wants to prevent us from meeting the new challenges that are facing Canadians. The official opposition often asks the government to proceed with parliamentary reform and to change certain rules. We are making a proposal, but it is opposed to it. The opposition is only interested in reviewing bills from the previous session.

Because of this attitude on the part of the opposition, the House, Canadian taxpayers and the witnesses who appeared before and who will have to give the same evidence that they gave barely a few months ago will all lose.

In conclusion, this motion is fair and reasonable, and it deserves to be supported, since it would give ministers a simple way to reintroduce bills at the stage they were at when the previous parliamentary session came to an end. It would allow committees to continue their proceedings without interruption. This is what the House has been doing for over 30 years. It is the same procedure as the one that applies to private members' bills. It is in the best interests of the House, of members of Parliament and of the public, since it would ensure that our time and taxpayers' money are not wasted. This motion would also allow the House to deal with critical issues, rather than rehashing bills that, in many cases, have already been passed, to a large extent.

For all these reasons, I am seeking the support of all the members of this House to ensure that this procedural motion is adopted and that the House of Commons can conduct its proceedings effectively and focus on the fundamental issues facing Canadians.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are getting some pretty good messages coming from the House today on this issue. I think it is a shame that we do not have enough Liberals in here to listen. I call for a quorum count.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There has been a quorum call. We do have quorum. Resuming debate.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad about that slight interruption but it was an extremely important one.

One of the things that concerns me about what we are talking about is why we are wasting time discussing something like this anyway. We should have been here two and a half weeks ago dealing with the very issues the government now wants to bring back to the table.

The government is asking to have its cake and to eat it too. Prorogation wiped the record clean. The government is pretending that we never did some things and it wants to bring back not what was on the table, but to pick and choose from what was on the table. That is what makes all the difference. A manipulative group of individuals is trying to undermine the system of Parliament. It is playing games with how Parliament is supposed to work.

It is an interesting procedure we saw unfold over the last few weeks. All of us thought we would be back here in September dealing with extremely important issues. Some of them were on the Order Paper. New ones had occurred, including the possible war in Iraq, the terrible fishery we have had, the fiasco of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in dealing with overfishing, the agricultural problems across the country, and the list could go on and on.

What happened is the Prime Minister figured he had to have time to develop a throne speech to illustrate to the whole country how he was going to construct a legacy for himself. First, people do not construct legacies for themselves. It is the work they do in relation with others and for others that leaves behind a legacy. That is what the Prime Minister should have done. After nine or ten years we should be able to look at what a wonderful country we have because of this government and its great leader. Can we say it? No, we cannot.

I get applause even from people on the opposite side who realize that very few people support him. It is a small number. Less than half of the caucus showed up for his speech. It is hard to believe. The Prime Minister was due to speak and the airplanes were filled with Liberals.

Those people realize there is no legacy, but how do we get one? We have to create one. How do we create one? We develop a throne speech during a period when we should be here discussing the issues pertinent to the country.

Who developed the throne speech? Certainly the architect was no Michelangelo or da Vinci or any of the great artists or architects over the years. It was somebody who knew how to use a photocopying machine. It must be a very poor machine at that if it took two and a half weeks to copy the throne speech that was delivered here just a short time ago.

What is in it for the country? Absolutely nothing. What is in it to create a legacy? Practically decimation of certain parts of our country. That will be the legacy of the Prime Minister and the government.

I come from Atlantic Canada. Atlantic Canada grew in the early years and is still there and is still developing because of its ability to use marine resources, mainly the fishery. Newfoundland and Labrador, the province I represent, was rediscovered in 1497 by the Europeans who immediately afterward began to go there and fish.

The province was developed by people who settled all over the rough geographic area to set up fishing communities. They made a living for 500 years. In fact, until 1949 when Canada joined us, we were doing okay, but when the government opposite in particular started to take control of our fisheries, places like Newfoundland, northern Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick saw our resources being traded off for the benefit of individuals and other parts of the country. We saw a decimation of resources.

Has this government, has this Prime Minister taken it upon himself, when support is building across the country, to do something about this disaster that has occurred? Has the Prime Minister said to himself “I will be the one who will take back control of our resources so that Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland can benefit from these resources that were abundant off our shores, that are being overfished by countries other than ours”? People within our own country, because of a lack of government regulations, also certainly have been to some point responsible for what is happening.

Did the Prime Minister take leadership here? No, he did not. What did he say about the fishery in the throne speech? One word, and I do not mean one word in the throne speech. There were no words in the throne speech. The one word is “nothing”. There was not one word about the fishery in the throne speech. A whole section of our country depends on the fishery. If we go west to British Columbia and talk to the people who are here today in our gallery and have all kinds of concerns about what is happening in British Columbia with the fishery, we will see that they know how much attention the government is paying to it: none, absolutely none.

So whether we talk to fishermen, whether we talk to farmers, whether we talk to people who work in the forestry sectors, and whether we talk to scientists involved in our research, all we hear about is mismanagement, cutbacks and lack of attention. When we talk about our people with disabilities, we see the complete and utter insult passed on to them by the government sending out forms which their doctors have to try to fill out saying whether or not the person can walk 150 feet. If the person can walk 150 feet, he or she will not be able to apply for a disability tax credit allowance. I had an individual say to me “I have no problems walking 150 feet. If somebody can put my shoes on for me, I will walk 150 miles”.

That is the kind of government we have. Now we see the trial balloon floating around about unemployment insurance. Members opposite will say they will not touch that. We heard the same thing a couple of years ago, and only for the election intervening we would have seen severe cuts to the unemployment insurance system. We have areas in this country where the employment is on a seasonal basis. Because of the nature of the country, it will always be that way. Will the same people always be there year after year drawing from the system? Maybe not, but people will be there. If people are in the fishing industry, they cannot fish at certain times of the year. If they are in the logging industry, there are certain times of the year they are going to be unemployed. In the manufacturing industry and the processing industries, depending on downturns, there will be times when there will be unemployment, perhaps in certain parts of the country more than in others as the universe unfolds.

Ten years down the road, the have provinces that today perhaps thumb their noses at some of the rest of us may be the have-not provinces, because some of the others have rich resources and, if given half a chance by the government, we could be doing very well and be contributing partners. Where is it written in the throne speech, the throne speech that took two and a half weeks to put together to create a legacy, that resource-rich provinces will be the primary beneficiaries from the development of their resources so that they in turn can be contributing partners in Confederation and not be perceived as having their hands out, waiting for the goodies from Alberta and Ontario? Where is it written in the throne speech for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in particular that as their oil resources come on stream they can benefit, to reinvest and to create opportunities that enhance the provinces involved so that we can become contributing partners? Where is the incentive in the throne speech? There was no mention of it whatsoever.

The offshore in Newfoundland is starting to produce a lot of oil. We are starting to see a lot of revenue being generated. People may say we must be extremely rich, but if we did a breakdown to look at Newfoundland's share this is the way it would sum up. There are 365 days in a year. If we look at revenue from development over a 365-day period and somebody says we are getting half of that, Newfoundland's share equates to something like a day and a half in relation to the total amount of production. We are getting about one half of one per cent of the development from the offshore. Number one, this is because of the lack of consideration by the present government to properly interpret the Atlantic accord, and number two, it is because of resource royalty clawback.

What government is saying to provinces like ours, to Nova Scotia, to Newfoundland, and to Quebec, also a resource-rich province, is “you develop your resources but we will take the money”, instead of saying as it said to Alberta in the early days “you develop your resources and for the first 8 or 10 years we will let you hold onto the larger percentage” of that as a sliding scale that would bring the amount down to what the government was giving Alberta, so that it could reinvest in its infrastructure and improve its educational system.

Our country would be a tremendously rich contributing country if we developed our provinces. By holding on to this central control, the government is the boss and keeps the provinces in line. Why do we have so many concerns expressed throughout the country? Why do we hear people in Alberta talking about separation? Why do we hear people in Quebec talking about separation? Why is there a royal commission in Newfoundland and Labrador conducting hearings on our place in Confederation? Why are so many people saying they would be better off out of Canada? Simply because of the relationship between the central government and the governments of the different provinces.

We are not being treated fairly. The cry from the west some years ago was “the west wants in”. It still has not gotten in. The east also wants in, and the present government or some future government must decide to treat this country fairly, to give people from one coast to the other a chance to develop and get on their feet and become contributing partners when they have the resources to do it. Newfoundland and Labrador is not a poor province. It is an extremely rich province when it comes to resources. We are leading the country in GDP. We have for a number of years and we will for a number of years. People ask us what we are complaining about. They say we are well off.

GDP, as you know, Mr. Speaker, means absolutely nothing. It means the value of our gross domestic product is relatively good compared to every other province. If we cannot hold within our province for developmental purposes some of these resources it means nothing. If it is only the value of the resource that is taken from the ocean or from the land and sent elsewhere to create jobs and build up the economies of other places, the gross domestic product means absolutely nothing. The net domestic product is an entirely different story. How can it be corrected? Simply by having a government that uses its head to help develop strong provinces, strong economic bases, people who can work together, and provinces that can feel good about being part of this great country and work as a partnership, not feel subservient as many of us do at present.

There is another issue I will mention. In the great throne speech that took two and a half weeks to copy, where do we talk about investing in our youth? If we are talking about bringing back legislation, let us look at some new legislation. The government is picking and choosing what it brings back. Maybe we would agree to let it pick and choose provided it selects some legislation pertinent to the needs of the country today. Where is the investment in our youth? Where is the investment in our health care?

Let me deal with health care first. Today as we speak, the doctors in Newfoundland are on strike. They have been for some time and maybe they will be for some time to come. What is the main bone of contention? It is pay. They are grossly underpaid. They are looking for parity with at least the doctors in Atlantic Canada. Any of them could pack up, leave Newfoundland today and go anywhere and do considerably better than they are doing in our province. Why is the provincial government not settling with them? I am no fan of the present provincial government, but let me say, however, that one of the problems we have is that we do not have money. We do not have money for some of the reasons that I have already given, but in relation to health care a lot of our funding comes from the federal government through the CHST, the Canada health and social transfer payments.

How are the payments delivered? They are delivered to the provinces on a per capita basis. For every person in the province, the province gets so much money. As the population increases the investment in health care increases. The government always talks about more and more money going into health care, some provinces doing very well because they have rapidly increasing populations.

In fact, every province in the country except Newfoundland and Labrador has either a steady or an increasing population, which means that its health care funding increases. Newfoundland has three strikes against it and we know what happens after three strikes, especially now when it is very relevant with the World Series coming up and the playoffs already underway.

First, we have a declining population. Over the last eight or ten years, we have lost 10% of our population. Consequently we get fewer dollars. The people who are leaving are younger people, so those left behind are older people requiring a greater health expenditure. So we get fewer dollars to deal with greater expenditures over the roughest geographical section of the country. We need more money to be equal and what happens? We get less. So can we compete? Not unless the government finds a better way of delivering health care funding on a more equitable basis to the rest of the country.

I am told my time is up. It is too bad. Education will be picked up at another time because investment in our youth is extremely important.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to address Motions Nos. 2A and 2B, which really are motions to reinstate legislation that died with the prorogation of parliament.

I want to start by talking about how in my judgment this contradicts something that members on the government side have been talking about in the last while, which is the issue of the democratic deficit.

This is an omnibus motion. I have heard the government House leader say that it is not an omnibus motion. The reason that is important, for people who do not understand, is that an omnibus motion or bill just piles a bunch of different ideas into it. It makes it very hard to vote for or against it because one might be in favour of some things or opposed to other things. Many parliamentarians regard an omnibus bill or motion as anti-democratic. Certainly we do. In this case that is precisely the situation.

There are some things in Motions Nos. 2A and Motions Nos. 2B that we can live with and other things to which we say no. They are completely contrary to what we believe in and what our constituents believe in. We also believe that there are some bills in Motions Nos. 2A and Motions Nos. 2B that still have not received scrutiny, and the government has not done a good job of listening to people. I will say a little more about that in a moment.

We are also opposed to Motions Nos. 2A and Motions Nos. 2B because the government is invoking closure. There is no method more anti-democratic to ram through legislation than to use closure. The would-be prime minister, the member for LaSalle--Émard, talked about the democratic deficit. I will be interested to see where he votes on all this legislation. I do not recall him voting on the closure motion today and that is not surprising. I am sure he probably would not have the courage to stand and vote against a closure motion, even though that is what is required if we are going to bring about some change in this place, but he did not do that. We are opposed to it on those grounds.

Finally, we are opposMotions Nos. ed to Motions Nos. 2A and 2B on the grounds that when a government brings in a throne speech, it wants all the benefits that come with a throne speech. It wants all the hype in the media and all the attention when it says that it has a new agenda and it will wipe the slate clean. However it also wants to have it the other way. It wants to bring back all the old stuff too. The reason there is a tradition of wiping the slate clean is because it is a bit of a democratic safeguard. If it has taken months, nay years in some cases, to bring legislation through, maybe that is a sign that the legislation should not come through. Maybe there is enough opposition in the public that that legislation should just die.

A good example is Bill C-5. Bill C-5 is endangered species legislation. Everybody in the House supports the idea of protecting endangered species. No one debates that. Of course we want to save endangered species. We live in a country that is environmentally sensitive. Many of us live in rural areas. We enjoy the environment. Certainly a lot of us in our party come from rural parties where we have the benefit of seeing the animals, sometimes in our yards and around our ridings, on a very frequent basis and we enjoy that. It is one of the great benefits of serving a rural riding. We are happy to support legislation that protects endangered species, however we also want legislation that is balanced, and balanced in this sense. We want legislation that if it is going to set aside lands that endangered species occupy and these lands belong to private landowners, then we would expect that in the course of ensuring natural justice that those landowners would receive fair market compensation, fair market value for the land that is taken away from them.

I cannot emphasize that enough, at a time when in agricultural areas of the country people are really struggling. In my riding we have had a drought for the last number of years. This year we have had a pretty moist year and things are looking good. Now we have the other problem. Now we cannot get the crops off. We have rain like crazy. I just talked to home not very long ago. It is raining and we have lots of valuable hay laying out in the fields turning black. We have all kinds of crops that we cannot take off.

I was talking to some people on Sunday morning. Believe it or not, in my part of the world, we actually have some areas that are very high in altitude. My part is a very flat. However if one goes up into the Cypress Hills, it is the highest point east of the Rockies. They had eight inches of snow up there. They had to bring the cattle in out of the pasture there was so much snow.

The point is that we have weather problems that are hurting agriculture right now, combined with the government's inability to really address agriculture in a meaningful way, and I will say more about that in a moment, and insensitive pieces of legislation, like Bill C-5, where the government does not recognize that farmers need to have fair market value if their land is taken out of production.

In our part of the world we have burrowing owls. If people have burrowing owl colonies on their property, they can occupy a lot of acres. It is possible that taking those acres out of production and not providing fair market value to compensate the farmer or rancher could mean the difference between them holding on. We have to be sensitive to that.

What does the government do in response? It says that it will give some reasonable compensation. However that is so arbitrary. Fair market value tells people something. It says that they can get someone who is an independent real estate appraiser to assess the value of that property and then the government can provide a level of payment that will allow farmers and ranchers to get that fair market value. That is important to us. We just do not understand why the government is so opposed to that, even when it understands that it will be very hurtful to farmers and ranchers.

Bill C-15B is another part of legislation in Motion Nos. 2A and 2B that we do not want to come back. The reason we do not want it to come back in its present form, and the reason why we want it to come back right from the beginning, is that it deserves further debate. Again, it is tied to farming and ranching.

Nobody in this place favours cruelty to animals. Let me make that very clear. However we also understand that in the course of normal animal husbandry there are things that farmers and ranchers need to do with animals that are unpleasant but necessary. Dehorning a calf is not a pleasant thing but is necessary. Putting an ear tag on or even providing vaccinations causes some pain to animals but it is in their interest in the long run. We are very concerned that radical environmental groups and animal rights groups, like PETA, will use this legislation to impede the ability of farmers and ranchers from making a living.

We know that Liberal members across the way are on the same page here. They have said it to us privately. We have heard some of it in the debate today. We heard a member from near Hamilton talk about how he would like to see the minister bring the legislation back to the House for debate again and put some safeguards in place so that radical animal rights groups could not challenge the legislation and put farmers through all kinds of hoops to get them to stop what they do, which is raise livestock. The problem is that is a whim and a hope. It is a wish.

What we want from the government is a commitment that it will hive Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B off of Motion Nos. 2A and 2B so that we can have that discussion again and address the very real concerns people have, again at a time when people in agriculture are really struggling. We are not asking for the moon. We are asking for some very small changes that would clarify the legislation, that would continue, in the case of Bill C-5, to allow protection to endangered species and would continue to allow animals to be protected from cruelty, in the case of Bill C-15B, so that farmers, ranchers and landowners also are protected.

We will have an emergency debate on agriculture tonight. I regret that everybody wanted to debate that because I was unable to get my name the list. However I do want to say a little about that. I have already touched on it somewhat, but I want to say a little more.

My riding occupies a big chunk of southeastern Alberta. It goes from the Saskatchewan border, probably close to 150 miles toward the west, and then from the Montana border, probably 200 miles up to the Red Deer River. It is a big riding and full of lots of prairie, farms, ranches and very good people

What I am concerned about is that the government, when it brought down its throne speech, really displayed how insensitive and out of touch it is with rural Canada. There was exactly one sentence in that throne speech that said anything at all about agriculture. That concerns me because agriculture is being assaulted from a hundred different ways. Sometimes those people are being assaulted by their own government in the legislation it brings down, like Bill C-15B and Bill C-5. Sometimes they are being assaulted by governments in other countries which unfairly subsidize to the point where they depress prices and make it impossible for countries like Canada, which is trying to play by the rules, to have fair market prices so that farmers can prosper when they raise these crops and take them to market.

Sometimes it is the weather. We have drought occurring in central Alberta and it is devastating.

I came back from the airport last week. I swung up into central Alberta, where my son is goes to college. I spent some time with him and then came back down toward my riding. It is a beautiful drive. It is nice to see those beautiful fields but there are pretty sparse. When one gets up into the riding of my friend from Wild Rose, up around Three Hills, where I was, and in through there, where in the past they have had some beautiful crops, it is not pretty. They are having a terrible drought.

There are all kinds of people, my friend was telling me, who are actually having their power cut off because they cannot afford to pay for it. It is very serious. It is the most serious drought they have had in 133 years.

As one makes one's way down to my riding, one sees some better crops. It is a beautiful time of year. Every once in a while there is a combine but not often because it has been so wet.

People say, “It's dry. It's wet. What's your problem?” The problem is that it has been just so many years in a row. In the past our farmers have been able to survive because they have had some good years and put something away. They are proud people. They do not want handouts. They do not want subsidies. However when there are so many things arrayed against them, especially things like foreign subsidies that make it very difficult, they would like to know that the government has some kind of safety net in mind.

They also grow very frustrated when they find that the government is imposing all kinds of restrictions on farmers and ranchers which are not imposed on the rest of the economy. I am thinking of the Canadian Wheat Board.

A farmer in my riding, John Turcato, will go to prison for 113 days for the great crime of selling his own wheat in the United States. Here is a guy who wants to support his family by going down and accessing the United States market where he can make a few extra bucks on his wheat. Know what is going to happen? He will go to prison for that. Would that ever happen in any other sector of the economy where people make things with their own hands and take them to another country to sell? I do not think so.

For reasons that will never make sense to me, the government says that back during the second world war it used its powers to put in place the Canadian Wheat Board, which imposed all kinds of restrictions. That may have made sense during wartime, but guess what? We are no longer in war. It has been 57 years since the war ended and we still have the same legislation in place.

All people like John Turcato want to do is make a living but they cannot do it. It is ridiculous. I just cannot understand why the government still imposes that on people still today. They want the ability to do with their property what they will, as long as they are not hurting anybody else. That is not too much to ask. For reasons that I do not understand, the government is stuck in the 1940s when it comes to agriculture.

I could go on about that but I will not. I know lots will be said on that tonight. However when October 31 rolls around, members should watch the news and watch a bunch of farmers go to jail for selling their own grain. It is a disgrace but it is going to happen.

There are a number of other things I want to talk about. The government is bringing in some of these old measures. Strangely enough, a throne speech is a time when it is also supposed to bring in new measures. Of course in a lot ways it is not. The government is bringing in recycled policies from the past.

This time the throne speech says the government will provide money to help aboriginals. We all want to help aboriginals, but the government does this year after year in the throne speech “This time we have a program and this time it will work”. Year after year nothing gets better. Maybe it is time for a new approach. Maybe we should try something different. How about that?

The same thing applies with child poverty. The government says it will cancel the youth employment strategy and present a new strategy. Maybe it is time for a different approach. What about if we did some things to really stimulate the economy? We could get the economy moving at such a pace that employers had to look really hard for workers and said, “We know you are young and you do not have any experience but we really need you and we will give you on the job training”. What if we tried that approach instead? It is time for some different thinking.

One of the things that is in the throne speech of course is Kyoto. Kyoto is such a mistake on so many levels. The situation is the government has not provided any kind of an assessment of the impact Kyoto would have, but it wants to ratify it. The government has no idea how it would be implemented but it wants to ratify it. The government says it is consulting people. The government has not even finished consulting people, but it wants to ratify it.

How can Kyoto be ratified if the government does not know what people are going to say about it? Maybe they will say they do not want Kyoto in its present form but they want other measures to deal with real environmental issues that affect them directly every day, things like smog in the city they live in or acid rain, or maybe there is a problem with the lake they live beside. If they live in Sydney maybe it is the tar ponds. Would it not be more practical and direct to address those things that have such an immediate and direct impact on people's health? I think so.

We could go to Canadians and give them a choice. Should we deal with Kyoto and ratify the treaty which will have almost no impact overall on the environment and the issue of global warming? We have 2% of the emissions. How big an impact could it have? It would jeopardize many jobs, and I do not think anyone disputes that. Even the cabinet now acknowledges that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be affected or lost by this and it would cost billions of dollars. No one is denying that. We could ask Canadians if they want to do that or if they want to look at each local situation and see how it can be dealt with.

In Calgary where there is an inversion problem perhaps people would say to council they should burn a little ethanol to help clean up the inversion problem and get rid of some of that smog. That is what has been done in Denver, Colorado. California has its own emissions standards because it has an inversion problem. Maybe some of the local jurisdictions should be driving some of the environmental changes. That makes a lot more sense because every place is different. Everyone has their own situation.

People in Atlantic Canada they may say that is not their big problem. Maybe their problem is pollution in Halifax harbour. I know the government has put some money toward that and that is good. It is a good idea and a good approach. Then there is the Sydney tar ponds and other things. That is the approach we should take when it comes to the environment.

I will wrap up by saying a word on behalf of the Canadian military. This summer I spent a week with our troops in Wainwright. I slept in tents with them, put on the web gear, carried a rifle and did the whole thing. They are the most professional, disciplined, dedicated people I have ever met. It is unbelievable how hard they work and how little respect they get from the government. It is a disgrace.

Our troops are prepared to go to Afghanistan and put their lives on the line.They are prepared to go anywhere the government sends them, but they want some respect. I do not think that is too much to ask. They want it in the form of just some proper equipment.

I ask the government to heed some of the things I have said. I can tell the House that my remarks come directly from the folks in my riding and some of the people I have associated with. If the government were a little more in step with the public, I think it would have had a much better throne speech and maybe a much better approach in general.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Simcoe North Ontario


Paul Devillers LiberalSecretary of State (Amateur Sport) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to take part in the debate to reinstate some of the bills the House of Commons had been working on through its committees, et cetera, prior to prorogation and the start of the new session of Parliament.

We have had the Speech from the Throne. There were many new initiatives outlined in the throne speech. There was also a lot of work that had been done in the previous session on many important bills. The government thinks it is very important that the work not be lost.

In times when Canadian taxpayers are being asked to be prudent, certainly it is an opportunity for Parliament to behave that way. It is somewhat disappointing but not surprising that we were not able to obtain consent from all parties in the House to reintroduce and reinstate certain bills at the stage they were at at the time of prorogation.

In particular, we have been hearing comments today from members of the Canadian Alliance dealing with Bill C-5, the species at risk bill. I believe from their comments today it is the one that has caused them to withhold their consent. They want changes to that bill.

From what I have heard of the debate, there seems to be an issue around the definition of compensation that would be paid to landowners who would lose land or would have restrictions placed on their land in consequence of the bill. The dispute is over whether that is described as reasonable compensation or whether it is called fair market value.

Prior to entering politics, I practised law for 22 years. I did quite a bit of real estate and real property law. The argument being put forward by the Canadian Alliance is that fair market value is a much more precise term than is the reasonable compensation that is in the bill.

Frankly, from my experience, fair market value can vary significantly from appraiser to appraiser. When I was trying to be flippant with my clients, my definition of fair market value was what some sucker was willing to pay. A person could have many qualified appraisers with all the initials behind their names say that a piece of property was worth a certain amount of money, but if there was not a willing purchaser at the time when the vendor wanted to sell, the vendor would not fetch that price.

I have to admit I am a little confused over the reluctance of the members but perhaps there are other agendas at play. I know in this place it is considered bad form to impute motive to hon. members, but it seems that the reference to Bill C-68 and gun control does come up quite a bit in the discussions around Bill C-5.

I would like to concentrate my remarks this evening on one of the other bills that is subject to the motion. The bill would be reinstated at the Senate. The bill had passed the House of Commons prior to the adjournment in June. I am referring to Bill C-54, the physical activity and sport bill which I had the privilege of introducing.

Bill C-54 had received all party consent. No party had voted against the bill at third reading in June. Bill C-54 had gone through committee stage. Considerable work was done on the bill. My friend from Bras d'Or—Cape Breton was one of the members of the committee who did stellar work in getting that bill through the committee.

We also made significant amendments to Bill C-54 at committee stage, following the concerns voiced by the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Bloc Quebecois and our own caucus regarding the bill.

We made changes to ensure that services in our sports system are available in both official languages. If this motion does not get the support of the House this evening, all this work will have be for nothing, and this is definitely something that we are trying to avoid.

Getting back to some of the particulars of Bill C-54, it replaces the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act, legislation which was passed in 1961. Our new physical activity and sport bill is a modernization of our entire sports system. By changing the title to physical activity we are describing the work that it takes to become fit. We previously referred to fitness, which was the result of physical activity. By changing the wording from amateur sport to sport, we are reflecting the realities of our present system.

As members know, there are professionals at the Olympic Games. The NHL players who were in Salt Lake City and who won the gold medal are actually professionals.

Many of our athletes in Canada do not play in professional leagues, but they have contracts and sponsors. A number of them earn a fair bit of money but, technically speaking, they qualify as amateurs. The reality is such that we can no longer refer to amateur sport or professional sport. We simply refer to sport, and this is one of the goals of this new bill.

Bill C-54 on physical activity and sport was brought in after extensive consultations. Meetings and consultations were held regionally throughout the country and culminated in a summit on sport that was held here in Ottawa over which the Prime Minister presided. As a result of that consultation we ended up with a new Canadian sport policy that was endorsed by all 14 jurisdictions in the country.

The provinces, territories and the Government of Canada all endorsed the new Canadian sports policy. For the first time we now have one sports policy from coast to coast to coast in all jurisdictions. It is that policy we are entrenching in legislation with Bill C-54, this very important bill that we are trying to get brought back at the stage it was at prior to prorogation, which was after third reading. It had finished in the House of Commons and was in the Senate.

The Canadian sports policy entrenched in the bill has four pillars. One is the pursuit of excellence by improving our results in high performance sports. Another is increased participation. That is where we get to the physical activity side of it. By having a more physically active population we are sure to have a more healthy population. Obviously, there would be savings that we would obtain in future health care costs by having a very active and healthier population. The other two remaining principles in the policy entrenched in the bill are building capacity in our sports system and improving interaction among the partners in our Canadian sports system.

We have the support of all levels, the provinces, the territories, the municipalities and the federal government. We have the support of sports organizations, the national sports organizations and provincial sports organizations. We have the support of the volunteers. Our entire sports system operates primarily on a volunteer basis.

Volunteers do most of the work in our sports system here in Canada. They are truly partners, and we must ensure that they remain involved. There are also the athletes for whom our system is designed.

Last April, when we welcomed to Parliament Hill the Salt Lake City Olympic and Paralympic medallists, I pointed out in my comments that without athletes, there would be no sports system, no national organizations and no Secretary of State for Amateur Sport.

Our sports system depends on our athletes, and we must work together with all our partners.

There is the involvement of schools. I had occasion last Friday to be in Banff to meet and speak with the Canadian School Sports Federation which is the national organization of sports in our school system. It is an important partner. These are the teachers, volunteers and coaches who are involved with our young people in the high school sport system that will lead them to some of our national provincial teams and to other developments.

That is a significant portion of our Canadian sports system at the development stage where students from our high schools are exposed and coached in the relevant sports. The federation is an important partner in our entire sports system. It is looking for recognition and it is something we need to take into account. We need to consult with the Canadian School Sports Federation when we are looking at policy and sports policy in our system.

There is also in the Canadian sports policy the provision to ensure that underrepresented groups become more represented in our Canadian sports system. The groups identified were: aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, visible minorities and women. In the case of women, I had the privilege last week to launch the Women's History Month along with my colleague, the secretary of state responsible for women's issues. This year the theme of Women's History Month is “Women in sports”. I was in Montreal, she was in London, and we were able to launch it in the high schools, along with the ESTEEM team which is a group of former athletes who speak to students and encourage them to become involved in athletics to develop the personal esteem that they will need to perform well.

This is all part of the Canadian sports policy that is being entrenched and is for the benefit of my friend who is asking what is the relevance to the motion that we are debating. We would lose the time put into the bill if we are not able to get this motion to reintroduce it at the present stage in the Senate.

If we are able to get this motion, we will be able to carry on with the bill at this stage and all of that time and effort would be saved.

That is why I find it very important. Our colleagues across the way do not seem to understand what we are trying to accomplish here. They want to continue the old fight about former Bill C-15B, and they are not going to give up easily.

We on this side, however, believe it is very important to continue trying to build on the work already done and the expenses already incurred in considering these bills.

Many of these bills are important. I go back to my concern about the time that would be lost and the expense if we had to start over on Bill C-54. Again, there are provisions in that bill that are relevant and significant, and that we need to get into place sooner rather than later.

This weekend I was in Vancouver speaking at a seminar put on by PacificSport Group, which is a coalition of the national sports centres in Vancouver and Victoria and the British Columbia provincial sports centres. PacificSport Group puts on a series of seminars for young, developing athletes and their parents to teach them about some of the processes within our Canadian sports system, which they will need to take advantage of the entire system. Bill C-54 deals with that and would set up the framework for that important work from which these young developing athletes would benefit to develop into some of the world class athletes that we are all so proud of in this country.

We cannot just support them every four years when the Olympics are taking place, we see our flag being raised and O Canada is being sung. We must be prepared to step up and support these developing athletes all the time, between Olympic games. That is what Bill C-54 would help do. It would provide the framework that would let us do that.

We must also be prepared to step up to the plate with our partners in the private sector and in the provinces, and commit the necessary resources. From the work that I have been doing in the short time that I have been in the position of Secretary of State responsible for Amateur Sport I have seen a fairly healthy appetite within the Canadian population to step forward and be prepared to dedicate more resources to our athletes.

It is very important to be there for our athletes. We can best support them by voting in favour of the motion before the House this evening. This is a motion to reintroduce bills, and Bill C-54 in particular, at the same stage they were at before prorogation, which would mean it would be referred immediately to the Senate.

For these reasons, we seek the support of all members of the House for this motion.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton--Strathcona. We are back again and it reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have a quick response to a couple of things that the previous member had to say. I found it interesting that he would be concerned about the expense that it would cost to bring a bill back to the House. We have heard regularly that the government has no qualms about spending a lot of money on its friends, contracts for friends and neighbours.

It spent $100 million on jets out of the blue that it was told it did not need. The bureaucrats told it that it should not be buying them. It went ahead and bought them anyway. The member talks about the expense of bringing one bill back to the House and how it is such a tremendous concern to him. I hope he takes that concern with him to the caucus meetings on Wednesday and mentions to members of his caucus that it is an important thing that they manage their money well.

If the government could do business competently and in a proper way, we would not be here today discussing this issue. If these bills were important, they would have been passed in the last session. We would not have had the prorogation to get the attention of the media back to the Prime Minister and his legacy.

There are two bills today that I want to talk about that we find particularly onerous. They are Bill C-15 and Bill C-5.

The first one is Bill C-5, the species at risk bill. We have talked a lot about the bill in the House before. It is going to be a complete and total failure. I want to talk about a couple of the reasons why the bill should be allowed to die.

First, there is no faith in the bill at all. How many times has this legislation come back to the House? Three or four times. Why not let the bill die? We can do it one more time and this time we will do it right. If the government would take the opposition's amendments seriously, we could create a bill that would be good for landowners, for the environment and the environmentalists. The only one that it might not be good for would be the minister because he would have to admit that he has made a tremendous mistake in his presentation of Bill C-5.

This bill was brought to committee. It had 127-odd witnesses. The committee made 300 amendments to the bill and sent it back to the minister. He gutted it and sent it back to the House. Basically all the time and effort that the committee had put into the bill was irrelevant. Who can treat it seriously other than the minister in charge of the bill?

Second, the bill has no fundamentals that would make it work. It assumes that government knows best. There are a lot of us who believe that government is more part of the problem than it is part of the solution to the environmental problems that we have. It assumes, and I really take offence to this, is that rural people are a negative, evil influence in the environment. That is an insult and hard to comprehend. It bothers those of us who have a rural background or come from rural areas.

Finally, it assumes that local people, unless they are aboriginal, should not have a say in environmental legislation that touches their part of the world. This puzzled me the most when I read the legislation. What is it that the government is afraid of that local people could bring to the bill that it does not want in it? The cost to local people has not been considered.

The basis of all legislation is that we are trying to make a change in a particular area. One of the things we need to look at is how it would affect the people in that area and how it would affect the places that it impacts. Is it not reasonable to expect that a bill would address the socioeconomic impact before it is made law? This legislation does not do that.

We tried to bring in some amendments that would address that. The government refused to pass them. Why was that? Why did the government refuse to pass those amendments? I have one answer to that. It is because it did not have a clue how much the bill would cost Canadians. I have some evidence to back that up. The minister had an information supplement put out about a year ago. He wrote:

Environment Canada is aware that compensation for restrictions on the use of land is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and innovative thinking. We will need several years of practical experience in implementing the stewardship and recovery provisions of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) before we can be precise in prescribing eligibility and thresholds for compensation.

In other words, we will experiment on Canadians and Canadian business, but we do not have a clue as to what it would cost. The minister admitted that in October of last year when he said:

We then got deeper and deeper into this and it became more and more of the proverbial swamp, more and more difficult to do partly because, of course, governments should not pass legislation which is open-ended in terms of funding. We have fiscal responsibilities which, as you can well imagine, are fairly strict on us. Forty-five million a year is what we've been given to run the process and that's what we can expect and that's it.

The minister was admitting that he does not know the cost, that he does not know the implications. He is pretty sure it will be more than $45 million a year, but how much more? We have no way of knowing. He has produced no studies. He has not given us idea of what that cost would be. The minister will not pay for it, but he has no problems with other people absorbing the cost.

An even a bigger concern than this is a letter that was sent from Minister of Fisheries and Oceans which really is unbelievable. It was sent to the member for Wascana, who at the time was the chair of the Cabinet Committee for the Economic Union. The fisheries minister stated in his letter:

On the issue of compensation, I join others who may be concerned about both the precedent-setting nature of the legislation, and the potential costs of providing it. Removing compensation from C-5 altogether would be the ideal case from my point of view--

We begin to see that the government has no interest in providing compensation to people. He continued:

--but this is unlikely given the expectations of resource users. The proposed approach that would see compensation provided on a case by case basis, without a detailed policy or regulatory regime, restricts application of compensation provisions to the minimum and is acceptable to me--

That sounds almost like one could give one's friends more money than one's enemies, does it not? There is really nothing in there to give any consistency to the application of the legislation.

I would like to address one of the other issues that the last government member spoke about. That is the fact that there is no compensation in this legislation. He left the impression, as other government members have, that there is compensation in the bill. Actually all the bill does is require the government to set up regulations about compensation. The bill does not require the government to provide it in any way.

We heard many times from members on the government side that they had concerns with this. The chair of the rural caucus, for example, the member for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, said that he had problems with this, but when it came time to vote he was only too happy to vote along with his colleagues, the other rural Liberal MPs, and support the government. The government promised compensation. The members were saying that it was going to supply it, but it failed to provide it and we have not heard anything from them since.

Hopefully this will be one last chance. Maybe they will take up the issue and put compensation in the bill where it should be. I doubt that will happen but we challenge them to do that. This legislation could have had a very positive impact. The government has not considered that at all.

The biggest concern I have about the legislation in Bill C-15B is that it continues this government's way of fracturing our country and our people. The government's ongoing attempts to fracture the country are shown in a number of areas. It has gone on for many years. We have seen it over the multiculturalism policies that it has pursued. We have seen it in the bilingualism issue. The government pursued that and now has revived it. It is determined to make that an issue again within the country after so many of us had thought that we had reached a resolution on it and a solution that people were satisfied with.

The government has been notorious for trying to divide and conquer. It has happened in many different areas, in things like subsidizing favoured industries and not others. Bill C-68 was mentioned earlier. It has been an extremely divisive bill, a piece of legislation that the government will not revoke. The species at risk act is another one of those examples. Kyoto is going to be another example that will divide the country in half. I challenge the government. I would like to know: Has it done any studies on the impact of Kyoto and agriculture? We do not believe it has. We would like to see it do that before it steps forward and ratifies this protocol.

The agricultural policy framework is another agricultural-rural initiative that has been developed basically in secret. It left farmers, particularly western farmers, out in the cold. The Canadian Wheat Board is another issue. We have some farmers who are actually going to jail in less than three weeks because they dared to take one bushel of wheat across the border and donate it to a 4-H club. The government is going to lock them up for from 25 to 125 days. It is ridiculous. It is happening in this country. It is the fault of the government. It can fix this. It can change this but it is not willing to.

The government has deliberately pitted rural Canada against the rest of the country. The legislation that we heard about, Bill C-15B in particular but also Bill C-5, only benefits a certain number of people: special interest groups, consultants and lawyers, not people who are primarily involved with rural issues and/or with animal rights. This is coercive legislation that has been forced on Canadians. I am challenging the rural caucus members in the Liberal government to stand up and show a little bit of backbone this time around. They have one last chance to stop the legislation, to make it into decent legislation. I would encourage and challenge them to do that. I guess my expectations are not very high but hopefully they will take up that challenge and do the right thing.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in this place today to speak on the motions we are dealing with on reinstating bills, but I would like to start by addressing some of the points that were made by the hon. Secretary of State for Amateur Sport. I noticed how passionate he was when he spoke about Bill C-54, one of his bills. I know that he is a great fan of sports so I hope he will, and I encourage him to, come out and join us when, as he may know, our MPs' soccer team will be playing Wednesday night against the EU All-Stars. We are called the Commoners. Knowing how passionate he is about sport, I know he will be there ready to kick some balls, if you know what I mean, Mr. Speaker. I am sure he will join us on Wednesday and I encourage him to do so.

Now I want to make a point that he seemed to miss in his speech. When he talked about the opposition being against reinstating the bills we are talking about, he seemed to miss the point. On this side we encourage the work done in the previous session. We do not want to stop it or thwart it unnecessarily. We want to get back to business right away. What the hon. minister forgot to mention was that the two bills we do have problems with are Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B. The other bills that we want to reinstate right away and get right into the business of debating are, obviously, Bills C-53, C-55, C-54, C-56, C-60 and C-61. We would like to see all these bills from the previous session of Parliament reinstated. We would like to get back to business but the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport failed to mention that and focused specifically on Bill C-54, the bill in which he is so interested.

Today in debating Motions 2A and 2B, we are suggesting that we in the opposition have a serious problem when it comes to Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B of the previous session of Parliament. It is clear from what we have heard from a number of members why we have a problem with those two particular bills and why we introduced this amendment so that those bills would be left out of mix. That is because of the way those two bills evolved in this place and specifically because of the way the government dealt with talking to stakeholders in trying to build consensus. The government just refused to bring stakeholders together. It refused to listen to the people who would be most affected by these two particular bills.

I will focus on Bill C-5. The stakeholders, especially the agriculturalists, the ranchers, the farmers and all these particular groups, had huge concerns with Bill C-5. In fact, the government failed to listen to them properly and equally and give them representation leading into Bill C-5 and in passing the bill as we were reaching the final stages of it.

Some of my colleagues, in discussing the problems we had with Bill C-5, focused particularly on the issue of compensation. The Secretary of State for Amateur Sport said he did not see a problem between the ideas of compensation and fair market value or with the fact that compensation would be given at the discretion of the government any way it sees fit. There would not be a real equation or plan put together. It would be left to the government to decide what is fair compensation is, while it is not actually willing to commit to fair market compensation.

I was surprised. He said he was a lawyer and that he advised his clients. I am glad I never went to him for advice, because the biggest problem with Bill C-5 is the idea that many of the people involved, their livelihoods, their farms, their ranches or whatever it might be, are afraid to commit. As much as they are environmentalists and stewards of land and take on voluntary efforts to protect their land and inhabitants of the land, they want to make sure that they are compensated fairly if the government decides to expropriate their land, for whatever reason, whether it is for protecting habitat, protecting endangered species, whatever the case that is made to take the land away from people who rely on it.

Is that too much to ask? I think that in a free and democratic society it is only a fair demand to have free and fair compensation based on market value. I am still astounded to this day as to why the government is so afraid to make that sort of commitment to the people who in the end are going to do the most good in protecting the environment. This is just something that is beyond me, but let us face it, the government has done a lot of things that are beyond me and beyond Canadians many times over, so it is no real surprise.

My colleague who just spoke talked about the government's attitude in dealing with bills like Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B. We saw it most recently with its attitude on Kyoto. The government does not want to bring stakeholders together. It does not want to try to build a consensus. It has an attitude of divide and conquer, as I believe my colleague mentioned.

What are we doing in this country if that is the way we are going to approach Canadians and build consensus? Are we going to divide and conquer? That seems like we would be pushing people in different parts of the country further apart instead of trying to bring them together.

The government had an opportunity to show some leadership on Bill C-15B and Bill C-5 by trying to bring together all of those stakeholders I mentioned earlier, the people who live off and work the land, the environmentalists, the ranchers, and the people who have long-term leases doing natural resource work for their businesses. All of these groups could have been brought together if the idea of compensation had been addressed properly.

This same pattern the government shows is being unveiled in its whole plan for Kyoto. There is only one way to describe it: either we are for the environment or we are against it. There is no in-between. This boggles my mind. Clearly we have the opportunity under Kyoto, at least if we look at it properly, to look away from what has been done under Kyoto and to try to bring all stakeholders together for the environment. If cleaner air is what we are actually trying to achieve, then we have to do it by bringing people together. I am speaking of those people who are involved in the natural resource industries, oil and gas and all types of industry that deal with the production of fossil fuels whatever they might be. We need to bring them together through technological advances to be able to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and try to clean up the environment. We should not cut them out or restrict production. We do not need the types of solutions the government has by not bringing people together. It seems that we actually are going to go backwards if we try to go down the road of Kyoto.

That is why I am saying here today that we have seen this constant pattern. One would think the government would have learned in the past session of Parliament with the type of opposition it had, especially under Bill C-5, from all the different groups that put a lot of work into that bill to try to convince the government that compensation was a big part of something the government is missing and a big part of why people would oppose that legislation. Yet the government refuses to acknowledge that. If the government goes down the road of Kyoto it is going to suffer the same fate. We are going to be dividing people. They are not going to be working in the best interests of the environment. They are going to be looking out for themselves, because the government refuses to take in other socio-economic factors when it makes a decision. It is a real shame that the government has that sort of attitude.

I know I have digressed a bit because Kyoto is a big concern for a lot of Canadians as we lead into this Parliament, but to go back to Bill C-5, there are a few different provisions that we had addressed in Bill C-5 when the bill was going through the House. One of the things I talked about was compensation. Clearly this is something that the government can still amend and improve before the bill comes back to the House if that is what the government decides to do.

Particularly in dealing with Bill C-5, the idea of criminal liability was another issue that many farmers were afraid of, especially ranchers and farmers who deal with the land. If unfortunately by accident a habitat or an endangered species were destroyed unintentionally, under the bill these people could be penalized under the highest type of criminal penalties that sometimes do not take into consideration harm incurred by accident. This was a big fear among many farmers and ranchers. Those accidents may occur. Are we going to penalize those individuals to the highest levels and actually prosecute them criminally? That seems to be a bit outrageous.

Overall the other thing we missed out on with Bill C-5, which the government has continuously failed to deal with and continues to fail to do as we head down the road of Kyoto and other issues like health care, is trying to work with the provinces to develop a sense of cooperation. Let us face it. For a lot of the things we do and decide here, the provinces are given the responsibility to administer them. Unless we are bringing them on board with some of these bigger issues, we are not going to have the success rates that we would like to see. I wish the government would start to take into consideration provincial responsibilities and work in a more cooperative spirit with the provinces, but let us face it: The divide and conquer attitude of the government is something we are going to see continuously and it is going to fail Canadians over and over again.

We wish we could see more leadership but that will not be coming from that side. I will not hold my breath because I would probably expire if I waited for those things.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, being a new kid on the block, I expected to see a lot of things happen that really did not happen. Of course it has been said to me before that I will learn the process and learn that certain things will happen, but as a society we should not accept what the government is doing.

It seems like the government, for some reason or another, is building half a house, then shutting it down, waiting for the fall to come and building it again. If it starts something it should finish the process. Because of that, the House should not allow it to bring things back just for the sake of bringing them back. If the government had been concerned about the issues that were at hand, it never would have shut down debate, closed down and sent us all home for the summer. We should have been here.

Mr. Mayor--I apologize, Mr. Speaker, that is from my councillor background. The EI system is one of those items we should be talking about rather than going back to the past and bringing bills back again that were half done. We should be looking at the EI system and what it is doing, especially in rural areas of the country.

For some reason the federal government is the only government that can get away with top up programs and not have to pay its workers who are on these top up programs. It is a total shame what the government is doing to people in rural Canada, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, in my area.

We can talk about the health care system and how the government has cut, cut, cut. All of a sudden it has a big brain scheme about the new health care system into which it wants to put all these dollars. The government took the dollars away and now it wants to put it back because it will be good for the government if an election is called down the road, or for the Prime Minister.

The thing is that the government has failed the people totally. We can look at what it has done with regard to the appointment of people with Marine Atlantic. That ferry service supplies all of Canada but the people who are most affected by it are people from Newfoundland and Labrador. Of course we do not have a proper representation, a full quota of people from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The government has stayed solid. My office has been flooded with phone calls wondering where the Newfoundland minister is. I do not know where he is. Apparently he is doing a lot of talking behind closed doors but it is not being effective. People are very concerned that our livelihood, our ferry service that connects us to the rest of Canada, has totally been affected.

Those are the things that we should be talking about in the House rather than bringing back items that for some reason the government did not feel were important but now they are important. It should be the law that the government should not be allowed to do that, but for some reason it has the attitude, as the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador had, which is that it had the majority and it could do as it liked. We should not allow it to do that and Canadians should not allow it to do that because that is just total arrogance. The government has no respect for the Canadian taxpayer.

I made a speech during labour day. All the politicians were there talking about health care. They did not know what they were talking about. I spent 22 years here. I know what is happening in health care. The politicians are not listening.

I am learning quickly. We should be working for the people. We should be putting programs in place so people can function in society as a total unit without having to beg for things that are rightly ours.

Let us talk about the military. We know what happened after 9/11. The government did not do very much to bring more spending into the military. What did it do? All of a sudden contracts went out to the supply chain. For goodness' sake, the zippers on the servicemen's pants will not stay up. They are going around with their pants not properly secured. Submarines are going down but cannot get up. It is totally ridiculous. We need to start spending more money on the military. What is the government doing? It is going to do a review. What a waste of time. It already knows how to do it. It just needs to do it and do it right.

It is like I said earlier, the government is building half a house. If it is not going to do the job right in the first place, it is time for it to get out and let another government do the job.

I can go on to the air service. I believe the minister was in the House last week. I do not know exactly what he said, but from what I understand he said that everything was fine in rural Canada and rural Newfoundland and Labrador with regard to air transportation. The minister does not realize what people have to go through to get a flight back to Ottawa. It is totally ridiculous. The hon. Gerry Byrne knows because he flies back and forth all the time.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. You can call me Mr. Mayor and you may get away with that but you cannot refer to your friends, if you have any on the other side, by their names. Refer to their portfolios or their riding names and the rest you can settle behind the curtains. As long as we are here in the political arena let us stay within the rules.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for ACOA and member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte. We are all friends. We have differences of opinions but that does not make us enemies. Life is too short to have enemies.

I think the minister realizes, as well as I and everyone else who travels back and forth, that the air service is not what it should be. It should be upgraded. Since Air Canada seems to come to us when it wants a bail out, it should be required by law to provide the same type of service in rural Canada as it provides in central Canada. We should be no exception. It is like we are second-class citizens in the rural areas of this country. It is time for the government to take a stand. These are things that we should be discussing to make sure it happens for the people because we are elected for the people. They elect us and it seems like we forget that.

One of the big things that the government has missed, as far as I am concerned, is that it should have come back with a real plan for the next generation. The next generation is from rural Newfoundland and Labrador and all of Canada. We should be putting money where it is needed the most. Right now I think rural Canada has been totally forgotten. We are not doing the things we should. Yes, we are doing some things but they are not enough. The government should be coming out with a plan to revitalize rural Canada so that we know where we are going. I bet it does not know where we are going because I do not where we are going. All I know is that people in rural Canada and rural Newfoundland and Labrador are leaving, which is causing a big problem.

We cannot have our cake and eat it too. The government has decided for some reason that it now wants to bring back all these important bills. I heard a speaker tonight talk about the money and the fact that it would be costly. There is no cost factor as far as I am concerned. If the bill was important the government should have stayed and debated it at the time.

As far as I am concerned, the House should send a clear message to the government and tell it that it will not get away with it. If not, it will have the attitude that it can do what it wants, because it feels that way anyway. We should stand firm and tell the government, no, it cannot do what it wants because we were elected for the people. If we do not do it no one else will. The people expect us to do it.

I will finish off by saying that it is time for the politicians in this country to look at why they were elected and where we are going. The thing about it is that it does not appear we are going very far because the Liberals do not have a plan and we need a plan.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to take this opportunity at the beginning of this new session to raise some of the issues that concern us, especially with regard to the topic at hand here.

The whole effect of prorogation is to quash all the business that was on the order paper. The purpose is to start anew with a fresh agenda to inspire and lead Canadians for the rest of the government's mandate.

What have we done at the beginning of this second session instead? Nothing. It is not new, it is not inspiring and that is the essence of the debate that we have here. What we have is an old, tired Prime Minister with a self-serving agenda, leading a caucus of members who are fed up with his leadership. The Liberal leader in waiting, the member for LaSalle--Émard, is not getting any younger himself and everyone over there is becoming impatient. Those are the dynamics the Canadian public might as well know.

Compounding this whole mood of discontent, the Prime Minister is proposing a throne speech made up of worn out promises with a few new promises ready to be broken. To make things even worse, the government has introduced a motion that gives it authority to reinstate bills from the last session. Included in that list of bills is Bill C-5, the species at risk bill, and Bill C-15B, the cruelty to animals bill. If reinstated, both of these bills will bypass the Commons and go straight to the Senate.

Those two bills represent the Liberal government's esteemed legislative and political attack on the lives and livelihoods of rural Canadians and the communities where they live.

The Prime Minister has to learn that he cannot make travel plans for every member and every region of the country by using the map of Toronto. He will get lost just like he did with the gun registry.

I would like to talk a little bit about Bill C-15B and Bill C-5. I would like to start with Bill C-5. This would have a very negative impact on agricultural producers. They were hoping that when this session ended these flawed and misguided bills would be dead. Now, with the debate we are having here this evening and the vote that will take place in probably an hour, they will all be back on the agenda and the nightmare that agriculture producers were undergoing will come back.

With the species at risk bill back, the government has not looked into the social and economic impact of this bill on Canadians. What kind of costs are we going to see from this bill? The minister says that it will cost more than $45 million. Is he sure? Has he taken into account the cost of enforcement and the costs that will be placed on the industry and property users? He has stated in committee that the legislation is open-ended in terms of what it will cost property owners.

I have stated in the House before that compensation must be made available to property owners who lose their land due to the bill. It is imperative that in order to alleviate the social and economic costs of the bill adequate compensation must be made. As the bill currently stands, it preserves the minister's right, his discretionary power, to decide who gets compensation and how much compensation. He decides whether provincial laws are effective or not. It gives him power to impose federal laws on provincial jurisdictions. This power in the hands of one person totally eliminates any transparency in the bill. That is why this omnibus bill should not just point blank reinstate all of this legislation. One of the reasons is Bill C-5.

The other bill that I want to briefly touch on is Bill C-15B, the cruelty to animals bill. It is even more hideous. The bill as it currently stands is much too vague. It is too broad. It shows a hidden agenda put forward by animal rights activists. If we take a close look at the bill, the main thrust of this was to increase penalties to those who abuse and neglect animals. However the bill has become a broad net, going away from its original intent to moving toward a redefinition of “animals” in our Criminal Code. As the bill reads right now is so unclear that animal rights activists will use it as a tool to destroy the livelihood of thousands of agricultural producers.

We must ensure that there are three clear changes to this bill. We must maintain the status of animals as property under the Criminal Code. The ownership of animals is the fundamental principle of Canada's agricultural industry. A farmer's legal right to use animals to produce food comes from his right to own these animals. Moving animals out of the property area would cause farmers to be under an unfair risk of prosecution. I wish the government was listening. These are key concerns and the bill should not be included in this omnibus motion to reinstate all of the bills.

It would be to the great joy of animal rights activists if the bill is passed. They want to test this new law in the courts because a farmer would have to reconcile his own right to own animals with the new status of animals under this code. Farmers are not able to defend themselves against these large multinational animal rights groups. The bill itself infringes on civil liberties, the most important being the ownership and enjoyment of property.

The bill, along with Bill C-5, should not be included in all the bills that are being reinstated. Bill C-15B is the single largest threat to agriculture producers and to their way of life.

I would like to point out that the definition of an animal in Bill C-15B is much too broad. A vertebrate other than a human that can feel pain would subject farmers to long legal litigation, causing a judge of the Canadian courts to deem whether an animal can feel pain or not. This definition does not further the original intent of the legislation to increase penalties for those who abuse or neglect animals. We supported that basic aim but the bill has gone way beyond that and is not acceptable in its present form. No one is more concerned about the welfare of animals than those who work with them every day. I will leave those two bills at this time and I hope the government will seriously concern itself with what farmers are worried about.

With respect to reinstating any unfinished business from the last session, I would like the government to reconsider its resistance to implementing one of its own policies, the policy to appoint an independent ethics counsellor who reports directly to Parliament.

Members will recall that in the last session of Parliament the Canadian Alliance introduced a motion that lifted that promise word for word from the Liberal red book. The government voted against it. Believe it or not, the government voted against it and took away the opportunity to carry through on that promise in the first session.

One Liberal member who must have been uncomfortable voting that motion down was the former finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard. He was one of the principal authors of Liberal red book one, introduced in 1993. That red book contained that promise. What must be even more embarrassing for him is to have that on his record at a time he is promoting parliamentary reform. That member has quite a parliamentary reform record. He is not a young man and perhaps his memory is becoming faulty.

I do not know if members recall the program Dallas , when Pam Ewing woke up beside Bobby Ewing and everything from the last season, including Bobby's death, turned out to be only a dream.

Our former finance minister is hoping for the same second season. Instead of Pam Ewing waking up, the member for LaSalle—Émard wakes up, it is the 1990s, he is nine years younger and there is no government record to taint his reputation. All of the corruption and internal strife attributed to too much pizza before bedtime.

Mulroney is still the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party has not yet broken its promise to scrap the much hated GST. As he rubs the sleep from his eyes he slowly realizes that his record has been expunged. The unpleasantness is trapped in a moment of rapid eye movement. There is no record of him voting against a motion to appoint an independent ethics counsellor who reports directly to Parliament.

He is pleased to discover that it was only a dream that he supported a record 78 closure motions, many of which were used to prematurely close off debate on finance bills when he was finance minister. He sighs a sigh of relief to discover that the rat pack is still jumping over tables and screaming at former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with righteous indignation.

While this is truly a nightmare, it is no dream. The member for LaSalle—Émard cannot wipe out his parliamentary record and that of his government. He cannot pretend that the first session of the 37th Parliament and the sessions of the 36th and 35th Parliaments were only a dream. As much as he would like, he cannot rewrite the script like it was done on Dallas .

Let us turn to some business from the last session that I would be happy to reinstate. There is the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which I worked on intensively, proposing that all private members' business be made votable. This is not a government initiative but a battle fought and won by private members.

The proposal to provide for all private members' business to be votable was part of our reform initiative at the beginning of the 35th Parliament, the 36th Parliament and from the first session of this Parliament. In the first session, the Canadian Alliance introduced “Building Trust: A plan to make Parliament more responsive to Canadians”. As we face the second session, we have offered an updated version of “Building Trust”, “Building Trust II--Making Parliament More Responsive to Canadians”, which represents our ongoing commitment to make Parliament more responsive to Canadians.

The purpose of “Building Trust” was to propose modest parliamentary reforms that the government might accept with the aim to restore some of the procedural ground that private members have lost over the years to the executive branch of government.

The government's powers are sweeping and if members are to provide the necessary checks and balances they must be accorded certain rights. While we convinced the government to accept a number of proposals from “Building Trust”, we ran out of time to convince it to implement the remainder. “Building Trust II” carries over a number of proposals from “Building Trust” and introduces new initiatives that we trust can realistically be accomplished in the 37th Parliament.

The motion the government has put forward establishing a procedure for government bills to be reinstated should be defeated. What we would like to see reinstated is a commitment to reform private members' business. Canadians would be much better off if a lot of these bills from the last session remained but a memory. Generally the government would want to forget everything that happened in the first session and not try to relive that nightmare.

Did I inform you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

No, the member did not inform the Chair. As a matter of fact he has gone well over what would have been the 10-minute allocation. Resuming debate. The hon. member for Lakeland.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending my colleague for the tremendous job he did talking about Motion No. 2 and why Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B should not be reinstated at the stage they were at but should be debated all over again.

We all remember those debates. We remember that closure or time allocation was invoked on both of them. There was a lot of debate that had not yet taken place, not only in this place but across the country, because there seems to be a period where things can be debated in the House and the general public has not caught on that it is happening. Even though each MP goes out to his or her riding and talks about it in the riding, it still takes time before the general public gets involved in the debate. Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B had only just started at the stage where the general public was starting to understand what was included.

An interesting thing that we found, probably MPs from all political parties but the Alliance MPs certainly because I have talked to my colleagues about this, is that the more we talked about this in the constituencies and elsewhere across the country, the more people came to understand that these two pieces of legislation were bad legislation, not that the concept and the intent of the legislation were bad.

Canadians agree, for example, with Bill C-5, species at risk, that they should be committed to preserving endangered species. Canadians support that. However when they got into the legislation and came to understand what was in the legislation, they came to see that it was bad legislation which did not deserve to be supported by Parliament.

For that reason, we should start from scratch again, go through the process again. By the time we are done, maybe we will have the Canadian public across the country more engaged. There is a good chance that the legislation as it is now would not pass, due to public pressure, or that there would be changes made so that we could pass it. That is certainly another option.

Bill C-15B, the cruelty to animals legislation, was much the same. Canadians support the concept of tough penalties for people who abuse animals. Who does not? That is a motherhood concept. However the legislation itself had some extremely dangerous clauses which infringed on civil liberties and would not do the job intended. I argued in debate on these bills and at meetings across my constituency and elsewhere that some of the clauses would do anything but perform the function that the government said they would perform.

These two pieces of legislation need to be debated more. The government sent the signal when it decided to prorogue parliament and end the session. Why does it do that? It does that because it wants to clear the slate and start over again, get rid of the bad legislation it should never have introduced and start over again.

These are two pieces of bad legislation that should never have been introduced, not as they are at least. They need a major change before they should be passed. The government and the Prime Minister chose to prorogue the House. Let us start from scratch and do exactly what Parliament is supposed to do when we clear the slate and start over fresh again.

I would be happy if the government never brought these forth again in the new Parliament because they do not do the job intended. I would prefer it takes these back to the people drafting legislation and get the changes made that would make it good legislation so that we could support it.

There is something else that has led me to not want these two pieces of legislation to come back at the stage they were at. I found that in this place there is precious little debate on agriculture. For example, tonight we have an emergency debate on one of the worst agriculture crisis in the history of the country, the worst in the last 35 years without doubt.

We have an emergency debate on this coming up after we vote on these motions. How much time do we have allocated to this emergency debate? Eight-thirty to midnight. That is three and a half hours, if we get that. There is simply not enough time devoted to debating issues that are critical to what I would argue is the most important sector in our country: farmers, the people who produce our food and many other products that we simply cannot do without. I would argue that for that reason we should start from scratch on these bills, if the government still wants to go ahead with them. I think the argument on that is fairly obvious.

I want to talk a bit about farmers and agriculture not getting the attention they deserve in this place. This is something I have seen over the past nine years. Rather than the debate which is in the House to deal with issues which will make things better for farmers, too often the debate is about things like Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B, which will put an incredible hardship on farmers if passed. Some of my colleagues have talked about this in the past.

Now we have an agriculture crisis which is hurting cattlemen, grain farmers and hog producers. It is hurting agriculture producers across the country. It is certainly not appropriate to burden them with the consequences of legislation like this. I would argue there are other things government should do for farmers.

The drought certainly is the immediate cause of this crisis, which again I argue is the worst in 35 years, since the late 1960s or early 1970s. The drought is not really what has led to the mess that agriculture is in today. It is the immediate cause for some of the problems, but the long term cause is the government's neglect when it comes to dealing with some trade negotiations.

In the GATT, in the WTO and even in the free trade agreements, which are excellent trade agreements, agriculture was mostly left out. For that reason, we have all other industries in the country dealing under a trade agreement which gives pretty much fair trade. We have exceptions. We have problems the odd time. Softwood lumber is a huge problem. However most of the problems we have seen have been in agriculture because the agreement does not cover these things.

Instead of the government trying to bring forth Bill C-5 and Bill C-15B, which have had this incredible negative impact on farmers, why does it not deal with the real problems that farmers face? Again, it is the cumulative effect of prices being driven down year after year for the last 10 to 15 years due to unfair trade practices in other countries. I am talking about the common agriculture in Europe, especially the part of the common agriculture policy which deals with export subsidies which pays farmers from Europe to dump their products in our traditional markets. By doing so, it not only causes us to lose those important markets, but also causes prices around the world to be driven down.

Then we have the Americans getting involved to combat and counteract Europe. They want to counteract the harm of the European subsidies. Therefore, they get involved with their export enhancement program and that type of thing, which further depresses world prices. Then the Canadian farmers, who have only a very small portion of the subsidies the United States and the European Union have, are left holding the bag.

Canadian farmers are truly the most efficient in the world, I would argue. If we level the playing field or even make it closer to level so that year after year they do not have to combat the impact of these prices being depressed, the agriculture sector would do extremely well. Under those circumstances, when these drought years come from time to time, although never as bad as this, then farmers could deal with it and we would not be here talking about the crisis in agriculture.

The problem is that for the last 15 years farmers have had their equity chipped away. They have not been allowed to build up reserves in their business, like most corporations and businesses do, because prices have been driven down due to unfair trade practices.

Why does the government not deal with the root of this problem, which is primarily unfair trade practices and higher prices that Canadian farmers have to face due to the other things the government imposes on them, such as high taxes on inputs?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Tell us how to fix it, Leon.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

The hon. member said tell us how to fix it, so I am going to do that.

The place to start is with is the unfair practices. It is time for the government to start to really put some pressure on the European Union, the Americans and the Asian countries who impose import restrictions. It is time for the government to get tough on the trade negotiations and actually bring some change in that area. That is the first thing.

The second thing is that it is time for the government to make some changes which will allow input prices to go down for Canadian farmers. Canadian farmers are operating at a disadvantage, not only because prices are driven down due to unfair trade, but also because of our high tax regime relative to our biggest trading partner, the United States. That high tax regime adds to input costs, so again our farmers are put at a disadvantage; lower prices, higher input costs.

We have a regulatory system which is quite burdensome. The red tape our farmers have to go through compared with the red tape our American trading partners have to go through is not even comparable. There is simply too much red tape. Some of that red tape, the unnecessary regulations, has to be reduced.

There is a start in terms of suggesting things that have to happen, but it is certainly not the end of it.

Quite frankly, I am tired of being here on emergency debates on agriculture. I have been here nine years now. I am tired of having to have this debate. I am tired of having especially members of the governing party, but even some of the other opposition parties, stand up and say that the problem is the drought and farmers should be able to deal with the drought.

The problem is not the drought, although it is this year. The problem is the government. It has not done what is necessary to put in place a level playing field. Prices are driven down due to unfair trade. Input prices are pushed up due to over regulation and high taxes.

I have not really even talked about the high taxes yet. Look at taxes on fuel and fertilizer, especially the energy portion of it. It is just extremely high compared with other countries. We could go right through the list. The prices our farmers have to pay for what they buy are so much higher than our competitors. It makes it awfully tough for farmers to do business well.

I want to expand a bit on the problem area of taxation. I have talked about how it raises input costs, but I want to talk about a change for which I have been calling. I have written to the revenue minister, the finance minister and the agriculture minister over the past five years on this. I have brought this issue up on several occasions through private members' motions and so on. That is the issue of extending the period farmers have to sell off their breeding stock due to drought and things like that.

There is a program in place for the deferral of livestock sales due to drought and other emergencies. It has been in place 15 years. That legislation, as it is now, allows farmers only one year to buy back their breeding stock after they have been forced to sell it off. In my area many farmers have sold off their entire herd, but they want to be back in business down the road. Many farmers have sold off a large part of their herd and they want to buy it back next year. Just imagine this scenario of the cattlemen in our country. My constituency is probably in the worst part of the drought area and across the border into Saskatchewan.

Probably 40% of the cattle herd has been sold off. It takes 15 years for a farmer to build up a good herd. Because of one drought, they do not have the reserves they would have had had the government done its job in dealing with important trade issues. Because of high taxation and so on, they are forced to sell. Now they will be forced to buy back over the next year.

Imagine farmers trying to buy back 40% of the herd one year. Prices will be driven through the sky and they will be unable to get the livestock they need. The program which was set up 15 years ago will not work. I have argued for four to five years, as have my colleagues and my party, that the period should be extended so that farmers would have five years to buy back breeding stock which they were forced to sell off due to a drought or some other freak of nature.

Is that too much to ask? I am talking about a very straightforward change. The Liberal member asked that I tell them what should be done. Well, I am telling them.

This should be done now. It should not drag on until next spring. The revenue minister, the finance minister and agriculture minister should get together and say, yes, that it makes sense to extend the buy back period to five years so cattle prices will not be driven up beyond anything that is reasonable. This would give farmers an opportunity to pace themselves so they could buy back as opportunities arise over the next five years to rebuild their herds and be back in business suffering the loss only from one year and not from 15 years of building a herd.

The member asked what the government should do. That is another thing it should do. We have a long list of things the government has ignored when it comes to agriculture.

Instead of focusing on bills such as Bill C-15B, cruelty to animals, the government should put in place a bill to protect animals from cruelty, because we all care about that, that will not impose an unmanageable burden on farmers.

I am asking the government to set priorities and base them on something that really will allow our farmers to operate and compete fairly with our competitors around the world. It has been said by many that agriculture is the closest thing to a true marketplace because so many producers are selling and competing around the world. The only problem is that farmers in Canada simply are not competing in a fair marketplace because the prices are driven down due to unfair trade and the Government of Canada cannot afford subsidies that match the European or American subsidies.

Why has the government not done its job and negotiated with the Europeans and Americans? It could start by getting rid of the export subsidies. Over time the domestic subsidies can be removed. We have the time there but simply do not have the time for export subsidies which affect the price the most.

I ask the government to wipe the slate clean on legislation like this or at the very least start from scratch so we can have the rest of the debate that we did not have the first time around, so we can get people across the country more involved in the debate and so we can deal with some of the solutions to this agriculture problem. I encourage all members in the House and Canadians to listen to my colleagues in the agriculture debate tonight and listen to solutions for which the member asked. I have only brushed over them. They will be talked about in more depth by my colleagues.

Unfortunately, because of the priorities of the House, we only have three and a half hours to talk about agriculture. Therefore, I am left out of that debate. However members opposite noticed that I just gave my agriculture speech because I had to, and I am glad they did. At least they are listening for a change, and that is good.

I have given my agriculture presentation, a few thoughts on Motion No. 2 and why Bills C-15B and C-5 should be started over again if the government insists on bringing them back. That is what proroguing Parliament is supposed to do.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of my hon. colleague from Lakeland as well as many of the comments from other members today. I think it is fair to say, and my colleague would probably agree, Mr. Speaker, that you have been very generous in your latitude in the topics that have been covered today. We even heard an early intervention on agriculture, the topic which will be before us in a little while on the emergency debate. That is a very important topic on which I know all of us will be interested in hearing from members.

We have heard concerns about many topics today. We have heard about agriculture, about cruelty to animals and other issues around animals, about firearms and about Kyoto. We have heard from members opposite about overfishing and about species at risk. My colleague the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport wants to be sure I mention sport which I will come to in a moment. We have talked about the species at risk act. We heard comments about ethics and the various aspects of the throne speech.

We have even heard about soccer among the sports that have been mentioned. My hon. colleague from Edmonton--Strathcona was talking about soccer and the fact that there will be a game on Wednesday evening. The diplomats here in Ottawa from the European Union will be playing against a number of us MPs.

I want to mention this because I think the pages will be interested to hear that every year we have a soccer game against the pages. The pages ought to know that they have quite a challenge before them, because last year the pages were defeated by the members of Parliament. They should know also that when this happens, it is customary after the game for one of the members in the House to rise during statements by members and make a statement about the game the night before and actually indicate whether the members of Parliament or the pages were victorious. I am sure this will increase their interest and their eagerness but I do not want to increase their eagerness so much that the pages go out to practise.

I do want to speak to the topic at hand, although many of my colleagues today have not, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you will acknowledge. The topic is the government motion which allows for the reinstatement of government bills from the previous session of Parliament.

Some members objected to this procedure on the grounds it is inconsistent with parliamentary procedure. This is clearly not the case. The standing orders provide for the reinstatement of private members' bills in a new session of Parliament. There appears to be a double standard in that private members have the automatic right to reinstate their bills while the government must pass a routine procedural motion to reinstate its bills. I want to focus my time on this double standard which demonstrates why this motion should be supported by all members in the House.

The procedure for reinstating private members' bills was adopted by the House on November 30, 1998. It is found in Standing Order 86.1, which states as follows:

During the first thirty sitting days of the second or subsequent Session of a Parliament, whenever a private Member, when proposing a motion for first reading of a public bill, states that the said bill is in the same form as a private Member's bill that he or she introduced in the previous Session, if the Speaker is satisfied that the said bill is in the same form as at prorogation, notwithstanding Standing Order 71, the said bill shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation and shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper pursuant to Standing Order 87 after those of the same class, at the same stage at which it stood at the time of prorogation or, as the case may be, referred to committee, and with the designation accorded to it pursuant to Standing Order 92(1) during the previous Session.

There we have the same procedure we are looking for in this motion already in place automatically for private members' bills. They can be brought back by members automatically. That is very important to consider.

As we can see, the part of today's motion that relates to the reinstatement of government bills is practically identical to the provisions of Standing Order 86.1 for the reinstatement of private members' bills.

We have already seen private members take advantage of the provisions in Standing Order 86.1. For example, the member for Ottawa--Vanier was able to use the standing orders to reinstate his bill to amend the Canada Health Act. His bill is now on the order of precedence as a votable item as a result of his using this procedure.

The member for Surrey Central also reintroduced his bill to amend the Statutory Instruments Act. The member was also able to use the standing orders to reinstate his bill on the order of precedence as a votable item.

Were it not for the reinstatement procedures in the standing orders, those members would have had to reintroduce their bills. They would have had to then wait and see if their names were drawn in the lottery in order to place their bills on the order of precedence. They would then have had to ask the committee to which I belong, the procedure and House affairs committee, to deem their bills to be votable. It does not always happen. They would have had to go through the whole process once again. Instead we have a very good process built into the standing orders that provides for this automatic reinstatement.

It is interesting to point out that the motion adopting these amendments I have been talking about was moved by the government House leader, the very same government House leader who proposed the motion before us today. So today's motion is in fact entirely consistent with the government House leader's previous support to allow for the reinstatement of private members' bills.

Also the government House leader's motion on the reinstatement of private members' bills was adopted by unanimous consent without debate. Why then are members not prepared to have the same courtesy or the same principle applied to government bills? I want to suggest to members that just as they are prepared to support the government House leader's motion to allow for the reinstatement of private members' bills, they should also support the government House leader's motion to reinstate government bills. It is only fair.

Of course, the government House leader's motion was based on the proposals of parliamentarians as recommended by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. That committee tabled its report on November 26, 1998. That report proposed the reinstatement of private members' bills. However, the work of the procedure committee on these matters dated back to the 35th Parliament when the committee agreed to examine the procedures relating to private members' business.

We are now faced with a double standard whereby private members' bills can be reinstated in a new session under the standing orders but the House must debate a routine procedural motion so that government bills can be reinstated. It does not seem to make sense. This is clearly an anomaly. We ought to be able to correct this.

It is clear that members should support this motion. In fact, it only makes sense that all members should support this motion putting government bills on the same level as private members' bills. I would also urge that the House consider permanent amendments to its standing orders that would allow government bills to be reinstated, just as the standing orders allow private members' bills to be reinstated.

I want to go further for a moment and talk about the precedence for this procedure and this kind of motion. The fact is the House gave unanimous consent to a motion to reinstate a bill in a new session at the same stage it had reached at prorogation in 1970, in 1972, in 1974 and in 1986. The House adopted amendments to the standing orders to carry over legislation to the next session in 1977 and in 1982. The House adopted reinstatement motions on division, not with great debate or a day talking about everything under the sun except for the motion, but on division in 1991, in 1996 and in 1999.

In fact the 1996 motion included a provision to reinstate private members' bills. In 1997 a private member's bill was reinstated after dissolution. Standing Order 86.1 allows private members' bills to be reinstated, as I have discussed, and this standing order was adopted not that long ago, in 1999. It seems to me that members should consider their views on this and support the motion. There have been so many cases in the past.

In fact the U.K. House of Commons has a very similar practice. It is considering adding this procedure which it has been in the habit of doing, as this House has been doing for many years, but the U.K. House of Commons is looking at putting a new procedure in its rules to make it routine prior to the start of a new session. That would make sense to me. I hope members opposite will agree that we should be discussing this in the procedure and House affairs committee. We should discuss a routine procedure that at the beginning of each Parliament, after dissolution or after prorogation, these motions including government bills would come back in automatically.

Under this procedure all we are looking at is making it possible for bills that have already been considered and bills on which there has already been a great deal of debate to come back to the House at the stage they previously were at. I do not think members of the Canadian public want to see us spending hours and hours and thousands and thousands of their dollars going over and over the same arguments, the same debates, the same bills. They want to see things progress.

Canadians want to see the species at risk bill progress. They want to see the Criminal Code amendments on cruelty to animals and firearms progress. They want to see the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act get back to committee and get moving. They want to see the Copyright Act back in the Senate and moving toward completion. They want to see the pest control products act passed. That bill is of concern to many people in my riding but one in particular who has been leading the charge. Maureen Reynolds has been very concerned about environmental illness and pesticides. I am sure she would be interested in seeing that bill move ahead and would not want us to stall and debate the same thing over and over.

Of course there is the physical activity and sport bill that my hon. colleague the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport is so interested in. He did an outstanding job of preparing it and bringing it to the House. I want to congratulate him for that. We have to get that bill moving. People want to see the government putting the bill into effect, into action and getting Canadians into action, being more physically fit and active.

They do not want us to go on and on talking more about the assisted human reproduction act which should go back to committee. The specific claims act, the first nations governance act, these are all bills that should be put back on the table. Let us get back to work. Let us get them through. Let us stop spinning our wheels. Let us get moving.

I ask my hon. colleagues from all parties to support this important motion.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 8 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the motions now before the House.

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

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Some hon. members


Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Some hon. members


Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Some hon. members


Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Some hon. members