House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was grain.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for Wetaskiwin (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 74% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Lou Soppit October 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to recognize the exemplary municipal career of Lou Soppit from the historic Alberta town of Rocky Mountain House.

Lou's 7 years as a councillor and 27 years as mayor make him one of Canada's longest, continuous, elected civic leaders. Lou Soppit is a consensus builder who developed ongoing partnership agreements with neighbouring counties and municipalities. Among his long list of accomplishments are the arena complex, the community trail system, the Native Friendship Centre and the Clearwater Multi-discipline Senior Centre.

He was named a special ambassador for the 2005 centennial and is a recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to Canada and his community.

As proud as he is of the unique history of Rocky Mountain House, the coming together of the fur trade companies, the first nations people, and the explorer David Thompson, Lou denies that he was a voyageur with Thompson's crew in 1799.

I wish to thank Lou for serving the citizens of Rocky Mountain House with such competence and compassion for the past 34 years.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, of course I agree with my colleague. I believe that the opening of the U.S. border is or at least should be a short term solution. We should never get back to the situation where we are so dependent on the United States. Every producer I have spoken to has said that we could probably have seen this coming because we basically had all our eggs in one basket. And when we drop the basket, all the eggs get broken.

What we need now is more slaughter capacity. There are several proposals out there for a sort of modified co-op slaughtering plant, whereby producers could have equity in the plant. They could buy equity with cash, although probably none of them have cash, or they could buy equity in the plant with their livestock and actually have a share in the plant so that when prices do resume they would not all flee that plant. I think that has potential, but it is in the long term. If a shovel were to go into the ground today, it would be 18 months before the plant would be operating. Part of the reason for that delay, or part of the excuse, I should say, is that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency makes these plants jump through so many hoops. That whole process should be and could be expedited.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, all of that is very nice, but the border closed 18 months ago on May 20, 2003. As for the parliamentary secretary boasting about the minister being out there hunting for markets today, I am afraid that is just not going to cut it with producers where I come from. They are of course wondering why we were not at least working on the problem. Nobody expects the problem to be solved at the snap of a finger, but why were we not working on it earlier? Why all the delay? I am really at a loss about that. There have been three agriculture ministers and, to tell the truth, this is the first one who has made any effort whatsoever to secure other markets.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, let me first congratulate you on your position as Deputy Speaker.

I am sure there is nothing I can say here tonight that has not already been said, but I will not make any apologies for that because a lot of what has been said needs to be said over and over again.

One of the things I noticed in the debate in the last few minutes is the talk about the need for increased slaughter capacity and I heartily agree with that. We have a large herd of cattle in Canada and of course that does not just mean beef cattle. We have a lot of dairy cattle that have to go to slaughter once the dairy cow's productive life is finished. The only possible solution is to slaughter that animal and turn it into beef. We have the beef industry, the dairy industry, all of the cervids, the bison, the goats, and the sheep industry in Canada all affected by the border closure.

Just a mile up the road from where I live I have neighbours whose great-great grandparents immigrated to Canada. They are fifth generation farmers. The farmer, his son and their families are all employed off the farm in order to make ends meet. That is a ridiculous situation, particularly for people who have been in the industry for five generations.

When we talk about farmers going broke, it is not like a shoe store or a grocery store going broke. Oftentimes the grocer or the shoe clerk does not even own the building. They might own the business, but they do not own the building necessarily. They have a rented building. When they go broke, they lose their business and they have an opportunity to recoup, refinance and start up another business.

When farmers go broke, and we all know this, they not only lose all of the equity that they have built up in their land, the machinery and their livestock, but they lose their home and their business. It is a package deal. Agriculture is unique in that way. People say we should never take our work home with us at night. In agriculture we have no choice. When we get up in the morning, put our boots on and step out, we are at work, so we take our work home with us at night.

These people are desperate. These people are at the end of their rope, so to speak. We believe the programs, although I am sure they were well-meaning, were inadequate. As has been pointed out, a lot of the money wound up in the packer's pockets and now the people across the way are saying that they have to investigate these excessive profits that the plants make. I can tell the House where the excessive profits came from. They came from the government chequebook.

We need to search out more markets. The member for Huron--Bruce, in questioning one of my colleagues, wondered why the government should hunt up markets for these agricultural producers. The agricultural producers should be more innovative. They should be more aggressive. They should go out and hunt up more markets. They have hunted up the markets. They have been shipping cattle all over the world. Now that the borders are closed they cannot. They would be smuggling if they shipped these cattle anywhere else in the world.

I would like to remind members on the opposite side that it was not very long ago that an ex-Prime Minister of Canada led a trade delegation to China. He led a delegation, I believe, to Russia. He led trade delegations all over the world under the guise of securing new markets for Canadian products. Let me tell the members opposite, agricultural products, beef, bison, elk and all those products are Canadian products.

These producers are not saying to the government that they are hopeless, helpless people who need the government's help. That is not what they are saying. They are saying the government has hunted up markets for other sectors of Canadian society, manufacturing and so forth, so it should hunt up some markets for them. While the government is at it, why does it not tackle this, like it is a North American problem, with our best trading partner, as has already been pointed out, the group of people we would look to, to defend us, should we be set upon by some rogue nation. Those are the people that we would look to, to help defend us, and we would in turn, I am sure, help them.

This has to be approached as a North American problem with a North American solution. Let us get down to Washington with an all party delegation and make sure that those people are aware of what the problem is.

Canadian cattle producers are asking for a resumption in the U.S.-Canada cross-border trading, they are asking for new international markets to be found, and they are asking for more slaughter capacity. More slaughter capacity is being proposed in my riding, but the hoops that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is making people jump through are going to put the production of this plant about two years away from right now. In that length of time, the problem could resolve itself.

I look forward to questions from the opposition.

Cattle Industry May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, May 20 will mark the first anniversary of the discovery of BSE in one Alberta cow.

From the outset the government failed to grasp the enormity of this problem and the poor political relations between Canada and the United States made a bad situation even worse.

When the new Prime Minister finally arrived, farmers hoped that mending fences with our most important trading partner would be a top priority. Some bone-in products under 30 months of age were moving across the border, but now that the Prime Minister is back from his long awaited Washington photo op, that market is again closed.

For all his dithering, they have not opened up any new or old markets. All cattle producers have to show for a year of devastation is a flawed compensation program.

If the Prime Minister thinks that he can buy farmers' votes with a few pieces of silver, he is in for a rude awakening. If he really wants to address western alienation, get the border open to live cattle exports pronto.

Petitions May 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition I would like to present in the House. It is from more than the requisite number of constituents in my riding.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Conservative members will be opposing this motion.

Criminal Code May 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative caucus will be voting in favour of the amendment.

Patent Act April 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Conservative members will then change their vote to a yes.

(The House divided on the motion which was agreed to on the following division:)

Patent Act April 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, are we voting on the main motion here?