House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Huron—Bruce (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice System May 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to address a matter of great concern to all Canadians.

Recently in Singapore a young man was disciplined for delinquency. The nature of his crime justified the punishment according to the laws of the land.

My concern is that the laws of our country have neglected to address the basic fact that injustices must be dealt with rigidly.

I have a deep sense of pride and respect for our values and ethics. There must be a greater sense of accountability and responsibility for actions committed by offenders, period. Punishment must reflect the severity of the crime committed. Respect and discipline must sustain our just society.

I encourage our government to focus on its responsibility to effectively protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Only when the penalty administered advocates a deterrent will we have restored faith in our judicial system.

Corporal punishment must be introduced for those who choose not to be governed by more than conventional methods. A return to law and order must again be realized.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the point is well taken.

Regarding the issue of how to address farmers who say to us: "What are we going to do in the meantime?", your leader very ably this evening in an earlier dialogue said that we cannot get rid of these subsidies and aids immediately, that it is going to take some time. We need an interim period where we adjust.

That is what we are asking our farmers to do. They are prepared to do that. Farmers realize that subsidies are of the essence at this point in time because we are competing with countries that are much more highly subsidized than this country.

The fact that we now have a definition of subsidy is important. That was defined when we reached our agreement under NAFTA. I hope and trust as we go into the GATT period over the next number of years that we will find less and less need for subsidies.

I trust that farmers in the western part of this country recognize that we are heading in a direction where we will no longer need subsidies.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a question that I rather expected would come from the Reform Party. As you know, as we have discussed in the agriculture committee-

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for raising that question. I am sure that his concern and interest in farmers is quite similar to mine. Whether those farmers be in Quebec, Saskatchewan or Ontario really is not my point of argument this evening.

My point is that the farmers' interests in Quebec are best served by remaining part of Canada. My concern would be that if they did not remain in Canada the likelihood of farmers' success in agriculture and their future would certainly not be as bright as remaining here in Canada.

We have policies in place in this country. We have a directive. We know where we are going in this country. The supply management system is not gone. The member mentioned quota values. Quota values today are stronger than they were just before article XI was lost. I might say to the member that the people in Quebec have done very well.

We in Ontario who happen to take shipment of some of its stocker calves into our province know very well that there is good cattle there. Ontarians look forward to getting those cattle. We also know that the cattle industry as one of the many industries in the agriculture sector has done reasonably well. We would all like to do better but many sectors have been restrained from growth and doing the kinds of things they would like to do.

I once again assure Canadians that this government has the interests of farmers at heart. We sincerely indulge upon the member sitting next to the hon. member in the committee. He has participated and he has shared. I know the concerns.

I can assure the hon. member that we are there for the farmers of the future.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to be able to stand here this evening and address the issue of agriculture, something which I am very familiar with.

I am also pleased to have shared this time slot with my colleague, also my constituency colleague in the fact that he neighbours to my south and we share in many ways similar constituencies with the exception that my constituency is totally agriculture and I do not share the urban aspect that my colleague from London-Middlesex does.

This evening I want to draw some points that I think have already been made today. I want to reiterate a number of points.

I think as we go back and look at the February budget we see included some very tough measures such as cuts for all government departments including the agricultural department. Agriculture grants and contributions were cut by 5 per cent. Because the government was aware and sensitive to the challenges facing agriculture producers, major safety net programs, that is GRIP, NISA and the dairy subsidy and crop insurance programs, were exempt from these cuts.

There are no huge amounts of money for new programs as we all know and we do not want to create new cumbersome bureaucracies. Therefore we must work with the farmers to prioritize our resources and farmers are going to have to decide what they want the limited moneys to be spent on.

Just this morning a committee of rural people met with the farmers representing the corn and oilseed industries with regard to the way they want to see us spend our money in terms of the advance payment programs. Later on this morning they also met with the hon. minister. I understand they had a very congenial meeting.

The agri-food industry is complex and goes far beyond the farm gate. The system provides Canadians with the safest and the most nutritious food in the world and let me suggest also at the most reasonable prices.

We as a government are committed to develop all opportunities for growth and have placed priority on the security of the family farm. This priority can only be achieved by building solid domestic and international markets, staying on the forefront of innovation and in the concentration on stewardship of our natural resources-farmers know this best-soil, the way we revere this ever so important ingredient in the food chain.

I want to move to the issue of trade. Trade is this country's life blood. Offshore markets are expanding especially for value added products. Canada is losing ground to our competitors for a number of reasons. However, we through the minister, the parliamentary secretary and the agriculture committee, are working to reverse this trend. The minister has stated that our government's policy will be to work with the different industries to reach a goal of $20 billion of exports by the year 2000. This is a major increase from the current level of $13 billion.

We are committed to increasing exports and the minister has told the department to shift its priorities and to increase support for export initiatives. The potential for export growth in the agri-food industry falls within value added products. Also key is the development of new markets in Asia and in Latin America.

There has been created a new market, an industries branch that will work with the Department of Industry and the Department of Human Resources Development to produce a single window approach to provide support for market development of agriculture. Agri-food specialists have been placed in selected embassies abroad and to date the response has been positive.

The minister along with the Governor General and private organizations came back from a trade mission to China, South Korea and Hong Kong to promote the agri-food industry. The government wants to find new customers while firming up existing partnerships.

This government has been working hard to cultivate and take advantage of new trade opportunities post NAFTA and GATT. With NAFTA we have the opportunity to jump on new opportunities south of our border in the United States and in Mexico. We as a government did what we promised and made improvements to NAFTA before we signed. These improvements were in areas of labour and environment, subsidies and dumping, water and energy.

NAFTA was agreed upon to ensure that we have secure access to our largest trading partner and greater access to a growing market in Mexico.

To date Canada has accepted 85 per cent of Mexican food products duty free. Mexico maintained high import duties and import restrictions on many food products. NAFTA will correct this imbalance and increase our exports past the pre-NAFTA levels of approximately $215 million. This will help the whole agricultural industry including our food processing sector which

currently employs close to 200,000 people and with a production valued at $40 billion.

Market opportunities in Mexico exist in many food sectors including fish, shellfish, wheat, barley, oilseeds, pork and pork products, potato and potato products, canary seed, dried beans, peas and apples, to name some of the things we export from this country.

There was little time to rest when we were elected. We had to jump into the trade issue right away with the GATT negotiations.

Recently in Morocco, on April 15, 1994 the trade minister along with about 120 other governments signed on to the final act that embodies the results of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations. Their agreement will put greater fairness and predictability to international trade. New trade rules will apply to all countries equally and differences between trading partners will be settled more effectively through the rules of the World Trade Organization. This is essential to farmers and the agri-food industry.

For the first time in history we have an agreed to definition of the term subsidy. The agreement also sets out a category of government programs agreed upon to be non-trade distorting.

This will not happen overnight, but will be phased in over six years. In most cases this will give domestic industries time to adjust to the new trading rules.

The agreement will help put an end to a disastrous grain trade subsidy war that proved extremely costly to Canadian farmers. In the future Canadian farmers will enjoy greater market access. The red meat industry will also benefit from this agreement. Pork and beef producers will enjoy greater opportunities in the Asian market.

Now allow me to move to supply management. More than 20 years ago this country decided that a made in Canada approach, the supply management system, was the appropriate structure for the dairy, poultry and egg industries. Now supply management is one of the foundations of the Canadian agricultural economy.

Supply management is and was based on three pillars: production quotas, a regulated pricing mechanism and import quotas. After the 1994 GATT agreement one of the three pillars, import quotas, was replaced by tariffs.

Our party's position is clear. We remain committed and support the supply management system and will continue to assure its prosperity. Opposition members are quick to pounce on us and predict the end of supply management. In December the Ontario Milk Marketing Board issued a press release: "Marketing boards have not been dismantled by the recently announced trade deal under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT). The change coming in July 1995 is that border import quotas are being replaced by border tariffs so only the mechanism to keep out subsidized product has changed".

The industry has accepted this. Currently the government is working with stockholders to develop new arrangements that will support the sustainable orderly marketing systems required in the future.

In December the agriculture minister along with provincial agriculture ministers established a small task force to provide advice on changes needed to the supply management system to address the challenges and opportunities resulting from GATT.

The task force was chaired by the hon. member for Prince Edward-Hastings and is looking toward an aggressive marketing approach as key to the future of this sector.

Recently the United States has decided to serve notice of its intention of proceeding with increased tariffs on barley and wheat. We regret the action and despite what the opposition claims we will stand firm in our support of the industry. We will not trade off one industry's interest for the interest of another.

We will try to use the 90-day consultation period to try and negotiate a deal to prevent a trade war. We stand ready and we will not back down. If the U.S. proceeds with unilateral trade action we will have no choice but to respond in kind.

In fact, Canada would have been much worse off had it not been included in the GATT agreement. If this had happened the U.S. would have been free to impose tariffs right away without the 90-day consultation period.

In looking at the future, we have under GATT clear rules and a new system of discipline in trade that can be understood by all parties when developing the new generation of safety net programs. These programs need to be to the best of our ability countervail proof.

My view is that we need to develop long term agricultural policies that will take us well into the 21st century. Farmers need and want that stability.

Farmers have always said they do not want subsidies, they just want a fair price for their goods from the market. However, even with the best trading conditions support programs are still needed because of the inherent instability of the agri-food industry, instability caused by such things as weather conditions and trade wars.

We as a government are committed to replacing the patchwork of current expensive commodity subsidies with a user friendly, whole farm income approach. Farming organizations have given us their strong support in this matter.

To avoid major dislocation we will make future changes over a period of several years. Safety net programs need to be financially efficient, GATT constant and market neutral.

In my closing comments, I want to say that this government has been very positive in the direction that it has taken the agriculture department. In terms of our agricultural committee we have now opened the process where the public has been able to view us in our deliberations, particularly as we deliberated on the BST question.

We have offered and tabled in this House seven recommendations. It is the committee's hope and trust that this House will embrace those recommendations. We encourage all in this House to support us on those issues.

We also think it was positive that in the past week we were able to sit down and discuss the difficulties in marketing and getting our grain to ports on the west coast. A subcommittee of the transportation committee and the agriculture committee was established. It is meeting with witnesses on this issue because it is affecting and impacting on all Canadians. We want to let members know that we had a very successful conclusion to that time. Members will be hearing our responses from those witnesses within the next few days.

I want to say again how important it is that we recognize the values of agriculture. It is a privilege to have been part of this discussion and having allowed Canadians to see that agriculture is truly a part of Canada.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his dissertation this afternoon on the subject with which I find myself quite familiar.

I found his observations on the agricultural scene in terms of how the federal government treats Quebec rather interesting.

He alluded to the fact that there are certain commodity groups where there are problems. He mentioned potatoes, hogs and cattle. There are some aspects of agriculture that were not discussed or mentioned in his speech, one of which was supply management.

Can he tell Canadians and those of us in the House today how the percentages of the total amount of production of poultry and eggs and supply management in the milk industry have been affected and how his province has been affected.

Petitions May 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this afternoon before the House, under Standing Order 36(6), a petition calling on the government to maintain the present exemption on the excise portion of ethanol for a decade.

The Environment May 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada and the Ontario ministry of the environment and energy announced on April 26 the expansion of the Ontario air quality advisory program.

This summer Ontarians will get advance notice of high smog levels for centres ranging from Barrie and Goderich in the south to North Bay and Sudbury in the north.

The federal-provincial program informs people when high levels of ground level ozone, commonly known as summer smog, are forecast. Smog is a powerful and irritating pollutant which can affect the health of people and vegetation and can corrode various materials.

Short term exposure to smog can irritate the nose and throat and can produce symptoms such as coughing and difficult or painful breathing. The advisory program is therefore very important for the well-being of all citizens.

Smog advisories are issued the same way as weather forecasts through the media, Environment Canada, weather offices and weather radio. They focus on pollution prevention and recommend individual action to spare the air such as using public transit or car pooling and using fewer chemicals and solvents.

Ground level ozone is a serious problem in Canada. The federal government is taking serious measures to control it.

Trade April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Thursday CNN reported that because of our low Canadian dollar, Americans were flocking to Canadian border communities to buy new cars. Americans realized they could save thousands of dollars by shopping in Canada.

There is one problem. No, it is not either national government. In fact freer trade laws have enabled these types of sales. Rather it is the big three auto makers forbidding their dealerships to sell cars for export.

The big three have told their dealers that if they sell cars for export they could lose their franchise agreement. This does not sit well with dealers who say that if allowed they could sell hundreds of cars to our American neighbours. It is especially difficult for the dealers since other dealers not associated with the big three have not been curtailed from selling for export.

Businesses have long complained that government is hindering their sales potential with obtrusive trade laws. The government has acted but now apparently big business has stepped in to install greater non-tariff barriers. The Canadian economy has suffered for years from cross-border shopping. Now it is time to reverse that and take advantage of the situation while it is still in our favour.

Justice April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, recently a small, close knit community in my riding was shocked at the brutal killing of one of its own, Miss Joan Heimbeker of Clifford, Ontario.

Her parents have lost a daughter, the community has lost a friend and society has lost the potential of a shining young star.

The recent string of violent crime across the country has disturbed the friendly and safe country which we all love. We as Canadian law makers must take concrete action to ensure that there is proper punishment and deterrents to crimes like this.

We must recognize the sorrow and anguish felt by the victims' families and give them quick but fair justice so that they may try to resume their lives without their loved ones.

Canadians look to their government to provide the judicial system with the appropriate laws to deal with the realities of today. Society needs to know that it is being protected from violent offenders and that those violent offenders are given stiff sentences for the crimes they commit.

The return of corporal punishment must be revisited as a deterrent to these acts of atrocity.