Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to add some comments on Bill S-5 tonight.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my colleagues, members of the House and our colleagues in the Senate for the hard work and insightful debate that has already occurred on this legislation. As someone who farmed for decades and who was actively involved in many agricultural organizations, I was always attuned to concerns regarding the federal government's policies and regulations.
When I was first elected in the Manitoba Legislature, Premier Filmon, now the former premier, asked me take on the role of the environment, to be the shadow minister of the environment in Manitoba. I wondered why that would be so important to him at that time. I suddenly realized, with all of my farming and agricultural background, that the environment would probably be one of the most important issues facing agriculture in the next 30 years. It certainly has been in the last 25 years or so. That was a very important role to play.
A lot of the time we would rely on farmer-led organizations to keep us abreast of what the government was doing, particularly on approving crop protection products that we wanted to use as farmers. Some of the time we would get news reports and would have to write our elected officials to tell us what was really happening on the regulatory side of things. Quite frankly, regulations which get determined by departments and Treasury Board cabinet committee do not get sufficient attention in this place.
As farmers know, we must take care of the soil, water and air to ensure that our operations are sustainable. My dad had a quote, something that he taught me very young. He said, “If you look after the land, it will look after you.”
Farmers are stewards of the land, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is good for business. In the past couple of decades, there has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the agricultural sector. From the chemical farmers use, to how they apply them, they are light years from where they were back in the days when my father started farming in Elgin, Manitoba.
On the farm, we used crop protection products all the time. One example of this might be the fact that, when I started growing peas in 1971, there were very few chemicals that could be used on them at all. Today, there is a plethora of products out there to kill things, such as thistles, millet and wild oats, and these were not available to farmers in those days.
Due to the advancements in machinery, seed technology and the use of chemicals, farmers are now producing more food per acre than ever before. Hopefully that trend will continue. As our leader, the new leader of the Conservative Party has repeatedly said, we want to make Canada the breadbasket of the world. We have great opportunities.
However, due to the illegal invasion and brutal war currently being carried out in Ukraine by the Putin regime, we recognize how important the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector is for the world. Some of my colleagues were just referring to the importance of that food production capability earlier this evening.
A lot of the time Canadian farmers would see that crop protection products would be approved in like-minded nations, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and others, while taking a considerable amount of time to get approved in Canada. One example is, when I was a farm leader, we were dealing with products that were used in North Dakota but could not be used in Manitoba because the rules were different between their environmental protection agency and our pest management review board in Canada, in those days. The one that was most important at that time, when I was a wheat grower president, was dealing with fusarium in wheat.
Due to the processes set up, there is always a concern, as I was just referring to, that delays could impede access to the newest and most effective crop protection products available for the agriculture sector. At the end of the day, farmers want—