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?