Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as NDP MP for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Genetically Modified Organisms October 19th, 2000

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Motion No. 230 put forward by the member for Louis-Hébert.

As other speakers have done, I congratulate the member. In my observation of the agriculture committee and the House, she is always someone who does her homework and has made great contributions to debate.

I say in very general terms that the NDP caucus and party have looked closely at the whole issue of GM products and foods. We believe we have to take both a balanced and a cautious approach. I will go into a bit more detail on that in a few minutes. However from the outset I state that we support compulsory labelling for GM food products.

There is nothing more personal, more intimate or more significant than the food each one of us puts into his or her mouth. We must have knowledge of what is actually on our plates and going into our bodies.

There was a time when most people in the world grew their own food or hunted it and prepared it themselves. In those cases they would have known exactly what the food contained. Society is now much more complex and compartmentalized. We are not able to do that so we have to rely on information provided to us. In this complex society we have to rely on government to protect us by regulation. That is what we are talking about and that is one of the strong arguments for compulsory labelling.

We went through this many years ago with a whole range of other products when the consumer movement, if I may call it that, was born. We have been through a cycle of this sort. It seems now in certain ways that there is some regression setting in, in the way voluntary labelling is being described. With respect I want to tell government members that their support of voluntary labelling is simply not good enough.

As a little digression, the hon. member of the Canadian Alliance said a few minutes ago that consumers would tell us what they want. They have already told us in this case. Various polls indicate that more than 90% of Canadian consumers want compulsory labelling. I say to that member of the Canadian Alliance, if we are to follow consumers as he says we should, that is where we would be following them and not down the trail he has described.

Consumers have caught on to all of this, as the polls indicate. They have especially done so in Europe. The member of the Canadian Alliance went on to say that this is some sort of scheme and a non-trade barrier. He said that somehow or other we have the right not only to put whatever food products we want into Europe and anywhere else in the world, but in a sense to force-feed people, to put food into people's mouths.

To go back to the beginning of my speech, there is nothing more sacred than people's right to know and to choose what they will put into their bodies. There might be some non-tariff thinking going on in the European Union. I am not saying there is not. I am simply saying it is not good enough for us to say we have the right to blast our way into that market, on to the plates and into the mouths of millions of consumers wherever they are.

I will put the question of GM food, if I may, into some context. The NDP caucus and party have described this in some detail. We know that biotechnology as applied to food production is poised to expand significantly in the next millennium. We also recognize that agricultural biotechnology contains both the promise of increasing production and adding value to agriculture. It also poses potential risks to production patterns, food safety and the environment.

We have taken a look at the issue. We believe we have to put safety first when we determine through science based decision making what we will do about GM products and GM foods. We believe that so far we have not had adequate public discussion of the issue. There should be a full scale, national public discussion on genetically modified food, which should include mechanisms for meaningful public input and feedback.

As I have indicated, we also want a labelling process that will make consumers aware of genetically modified produce and components in processed foods.

We have a whole other series of motions related to genetically modified foods which came out of our convention last summer, but it seems that I do not have time to get into them. In conclusion, we will be supporting the member's motion.

Supply October 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague across the way for her remarks. I want to focus on one point because time is limited.

The women's march talked about the lack of housing as being a major cause and perhaps the effect of poverty among women. Today on the Hill there was another related event. The Canadian Association of Food Banks held a news conference to talk about two studies it had released. There are now 707 food banks in Canada and 726,000 people using those food banks, which is an increase in the last year. Many of those people live in very poor housing. That is one of the problems.

It talked about the fact that while we have a minister for homelessness in Canada, we have a lack of a national housing strategy. I am now paraphrasing from the remarks in the study this morning. It also indicated that the minister in charge of CMHC announced further research and consultation but that that was really not what we needed. We need funds committed to a national strategy and targets for the creation of affordable housing. So there is a link between poverty, particularly women's poverty and the lack of affordable housing.

I wonder if my colleague could tell me how we might attack this problem? There has been a retraction by the federal government on this issue. I wonder if she could tell us how we might get ourselves into a position where we have a decent strategy for housing?

Supply October 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Mercier for her perceptive comments and also for the motion that has come forward today.

I want to make a few comments rather than ask a question if I may have a minute or two to do so.

Our leader spoke this morning about the women's march and the women's demands.

A group from the women's march on poverty met with our caucus recently. When its representatives presented us with their demands I found that they fit like a hand in a glove with the kinds of things the New Democratic Party has been proposing.

We believe an election may be near. Each party is coming up with a platform, and we are as well. While I do not have all the details, I will go through some of their demands and indicate how closely they resemble some of our platform points.

They want to restore federal funding to health care. We have argued for that all along. They want to enforce rules against privatization of health care. We have fought that fight as well and agree with the women of Canada.

They want an additional 1% of the budget spent on social housing. The government has removed itself from social housing almost entirely and we have a crisis on our hands. The government has done virtually nothing during this crisis. We are with the women of Canada in saying that we must do something about social housing. We are proposing 25,000 units per year.

They want a promised national child care fund set up. The Liberals made that promise in 1993 and it still has not been acted on. I recently presented a petition in the House from parents and other members and friends of the Confederation Park Childcare Cooperative in my riding asking about that fund. They were talking about the fact that two-thirds of Canadian women work outside of the home. Not everyone has a situation whereby a family member can care for the children. In this economy, if we want to be productive and just, we must have such a program. We in the NDP are pushing for that.

They want old age security payments increased. We have fought the Liberal government's attempts to reduce old age security payments.

We have also supported the reduction of the head tax on immigrants. The women of Canada have asked for that.

Like my colleague from Mercier, we have also been calling for a restoration of our overseas development assistance to the target level of .7 of 1% of GNP. We are saying that we have to get to .35% immediately. In that, I agree with the women and with my colleague.

Finally, we have adopted the proactive pay equity legislation. The women of Canada are calling for that and we support them entirely.

I merely wish to state that the wishes, desires and demands brought forward by this group of women from Quebec and from all over Canada fit very closely with what the NDP has been advocating for years. Perhaps it is no accident. We have eight or nine women members in our caucus and they have had a great impact on bringing forward issues from the women of Canada.

Agriculture October 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, there is a disaster unfolding right before our very eyes on the Canadian prairies. We are told by Statistics Canada that we have lost 22,000 farmers in the past year. In Saskatchewan alone we have lost 12% of our farmers and Manitoba has lost 15%.

The Liberal government has to bear responsibility for this disaster. Will the agriculture minister commit today to a doubling of support to Canadian farm families?

Petitions October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, my final petition is from another group of citizens very concerned about Canada's trade policy and the lack of democracy at the WTO.

They petition parliament to insist that Canada secure binding and enforcing rules to protect human rights, labour standards, cultural diversity and the environment in any future trade agreements, and that Canada work to build an alternative model of globalization, one which will not rob us of sovereignty but rather protect it.

Petitions October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from many citizens concerned with the federal government's record on health care, in particular the fact that it has allowed Alberta to pass Bill C-11 without any real protests.

They ask that we stop for profit hospitals and restore federal funding for health care. They want a national home care program and a national program for prescription drugs.

Petitions October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today. The first one says that a small number of Saskatchewan senior women received in 1999 a gratuitous, one time only cash payment from the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board with respect to the previous death of a spouse on the job.

This money was not income but was intended to right a wrong which had occurred many years previously. Revenue Canada clawed back from these women the entire amount of the old age supplement paid to them for the year 1999 and further has planned to withhold all old age supplement payments in the year 2000-01.

Therefore the petitioners from all over Saskatchewan call upon parliament to urge the government to immediately issue remission orders for this clawback and to require Revenue Canada to repay these widows the amounts of OAS and GIS clawed back and withheld.

The Environment October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, with values like this, who needs the Alliance?

The minister's government signed away powers to Mike Harris in 1997. The minister has given his officials no time line to report back to him on an assessment and he has simply ignored the first nations impact of the mine. What a great environmentalist. He cannot get his endangered species bill passed let alone stop 20 million tonnes of garbage being dumped into the water table.

Will the minister stop making excuses and finally announce a federal environmental assessment?

The Environment October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

Eighty billion litres of toxic discharge from the Adams mine threatens clean water in Ontario and Quebec and it seems that the minister simply does not care. Toronto will vote on this contract this week.

In March the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development received a petition from a first nation to protect its water. Six months after that request and three years into this project, why is there no federal environmental assessment?

The Environment September 28th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, let us review what the government has not done. It has sat on its duff for years and only now on the eve of an election has it begun even to think of doing something.

People in the Adams mine area do not want this project and that includes the Timiskaming first nation. Mike Harris is free to pollute Ontario and Quebec, and this minister sits and watches the clock click down, abandoning clean water to Mike Harris.

Why does the minister not protect the drinking water of Ontario and Quebec? Why did he gut our laws to the point that he cannot act?