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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was horse.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, that is one reason we went to the Olympic average, so it could be taken over five years because we heard the same thing the task force heard. If farmers made nothing for the last three years, how would they come up with what their income should be? Therefore, we took it to the Olympic average over five years.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on the hon. member's first statement about us forcing the provinces into this, I do not really buy that for a minute. I hope the hon. member is not telling me to send money where I have no assurance as to how it will be spent. On this side of the house, we take very seriously how money is being spent.

On the second part of the hon. member's question, we will respond to all instances within agriculture. He talked about the CAIS program. He better go back and talk with his accountant more. For instance, we said that a young farmer might have a hard time coming up with the $24,000, so it was put into three payments. We even said that if the young farmer could come up with the first payment of the three over three years, then he would have 100% coverage on this.

I am sorry, but the hon. member better go back and talk to his accountant.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the agriculture policy framework that we have is not ad hoc. It will pass the test of time and, as I said, it can be reviewed.

We will deal with the cervid industry. We can probably incorporate it into the agricultural policy framework, because I said it would be reviewed and be expanded.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, let me see, the APF provincial endorsements. Clay Serby in Saskatchewan, “Saskatchewan is signing the APF because we were able to achieve a number of significant improvements over the previous safety net agreement”.

Steve Peters, Ontario minister of agriculture, “I am confident that this agreement will provide farmers with the resources necessary to build a stronger, more competitive agri-food industry”.

Ken MacAdam in P.E.I., “This agreement will help support the strategic directions that we have established for the agriculture and agri-food industry in Prince Edward Island”.

Quebec is signing the implementation agreement today because it is convinced it will receive its fair share of federal funding and this agreement will benefit its producers.

Rosann Wowchuck in Manitoba said “I am pleased to be here to ensure the continuation of the income stabilization program in partnership with the federal government”.

The minister in Nova Scotia says “The agriculture industry constantly faces a number of challenges”.

British Columbia, “Farming is integral to B.C. heartlands economy strategy”.

Shall I keep going, Mr. Speaker? I think the hon. member is out to lunch.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Malpeque was also a member of the agricultural policy task force that the Prime Minister put forward at the urging of rural caucus, of which I was the chair at that time.

What we heard from farmers when we went across Canada was that they wanted policy and programs in place that they could rely on and take to the bank. That is crucial, to take to the bank. We in turn went back and dealt with the agriculture minister of the day and also with the agriculture minister that we have right now, who also was the chair of that task force.

I believe, through the agriculture policy framework, the CAIS program and the new crop insurance program that we have in place right now, these are not ad hoc programs. These programs are specifically designed to help keep farmers on the farm and can be reviewed and updated if the situation changes and it warrants a change in those policies.

Supply February 26th, 2004

First, Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member across the way gets his dates straight. It was January 1, 1994 when the WTO agreement was signed. Article XI, section (b) was the one that was in question. At that time 117 nations were part of the WTO and 116 were not backing supply management and article XI.

It was his former government, the Conservative government, that was leading us to brinkmanship. It was our government in 1993 that renegotiated TRQs that in fact protected supply management.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to use this opportunity afforded by this occasion to let farmers and their families know that the government and indeed all Canadians share their distress when trying times hit. More than this, I think I can speak for every Canadian when I say how much we admire and respect those who, in the face of unpredictable disasters, which could be anything from drought, flood, BSE, any number of calamities, continue to make the Canadian agriculture industry the best in the world.

However, as much as our sympathy and admiration might be appreciated, they are not enough when it comes to securing the future of Canadian farmers. In the face of serious challenges to the viability of farm operations, it is incumbent upon the government to offer support that will keep our farms vital and productive.

We know from the recently published 2003 Farm Income Forecast that, while not all farmers came out of 2003 with empty pockets, the story for many was not a happy one. Caught in the pincer of low sales and prices for cattle as a result of the BSE situation, a Canadian dollar that appreciated against the U.S. dollar and an ongoing drought in areas of the west, some farm operations saw their incomes squeezed painfully hard.

Not one of us can prevent acts of God or control the decisions of another country. What we can do, however, is manage the risks that are endemic to farming, risks like BSE or drought.

That is one of the key aspects of the new agricultural policy. With business risk management tools in place, farmers will have a buffer against the bad times that nature cannot help putting us through now and then. Instead of reacting to bad times, we are preparing for bad times.

The new Canadian agricultural income stabilization program, or CAISP, is specifically targeted to help farm income against small or large declines. This new program, developed with input from the industry, is a shift away from the ad hoc payments, which used to be the typical response when disaster hit, toward full time overall protection that is here before it is needed. CAISP is here in 2004 for producers.

Production insurance will replace crop insurance to allow for the inclusion of other commodities that were not covered under crop insurance, and there are other improvements that make this program more user friendly than its predecessor: average production periods are longer, payments are faster and it complements the CAIS program.

However we did not leave producers in the lurch by waiting until these programs kicked in. Program payments in 2003 were close to $5 billion. That clearly demonstrates that the government was there to help reduce the impact of the past unfortunate year.

In addition to income support payments, last year we saw the government announce special funding specifically targeted to the BSE crisis; the BSE recovery program and the cull animal program, for example.

The record is very clear on all the ways that the government has financially supported the agricultural industry, nor is this support given begrudgingly. In fact, one might even say that it is self-serving. Canada's agricultural and agrifood industry accounts for more than 8% of Canada's GDP and Canada's GDP is over $1 trillion a year.

Keeping that number high means keeping our agricultural industry producing. I can assure everyone in the House that is the goal of the government. That is why we have the agricultural policy framework. That is why we back supply management. That is why we have financial farm programs. That is why we are working strenuously to convince our trading partners to open their borders to Canadian cattle and beef. That is why my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, is making every effort to listen to Canadian farmers.

Canadians have every right to be proud of the agricultural industry in this country. It is recognized worldwide for the safety and the quality of the food it produces. It is at the forefront of innovative production practices and products and makes sure that the environment gets mixed into the production equation.

We have a good thing going for us with our agriculture industry and we are going to keep it that way. There are bad times now and then, and that goes with the territory, but the industry and the governments working together can beat the bad times every time. The federal government, the provincial and territorial governments, and the industry are in the process of realizing the vision embodied in the agricultural policy framework.

Across the country, programs are unfolding to keep the industry moving on a course headed for prosperity: programs to enhance food safety and quality; programs to help science and innovation move agriculture forward; programs to protect the environment; programs to help farmers and their families deal with social and financial pressures; and programs to take up the financial slack when necessary. These programs will also be subject to an annual review to make sure they continue to respond to the needs of the industry.

At the same time, knowing that the success of our industry relies in part on exports, we are pushing hard in the international arena, at the WTO, to secure a level playing field for our farmers so that they can compete on a fair basis in the global market.

The government is doing all the right things to keep Canadian agriculture on track. We are proud to work with our farmers, to make sure they are ready to face a new day with confidence in themselves and in the system that they have helped create.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I had a chance to talk to the farmers in my riding over the last summer about the fact that there was a definite lack of capacity of processing within the country. That is basically a strategy which has developed over the last decade. If farmers in my riding say anything contrary to a processing plant, and I think they have really been bringing in huge profits in the situation as it exists, when their cattle go into the ring, the buyer steps out for a coffee and the price goes down.

Would the hon. member across the way have any ideas how we could increase processing capacity within Canada and how we would take a look at, for instance the Competition Bureau, the issue of packers gouging farmers?

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a lot of interest to the speech of the member across the way. I know the parliamentary secretary will be speaking very shortly on agricultural policy, so I will not ask him any questions on that.

I am a gun owner too, and I also live in rural Canada. I look at the registration system in a different way than the member across. I look at it as the insurance program whereby if my guns are stolen, I have a good chance of getting them back.

The member across the way said that criminals will not register, and he is absolutely right. However, I would like him to comment on this. The legal way of doing things is, if an RCMP officer pulls somebody off to the side of the road, under the system now, he will ask that individual to see his licence and registration. If the shotgun, which has been stolen from me for instance, is in the back of that individual's car, it is not registered. That is one way we get at criminals because criminals do not register. I would like him to comment on that.

Contraventions Act February 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will also vote no.