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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Macleod (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first, 4,000 guns that have been registered in the registry have been stolen, but they have not been picked up.

Second, let me tell members the experience of one rancher in my community. As this fellow left his farm, he saw a hitchhiker nearby. He rolled down his window and asked him if he wanted a ride anywhere. The fellow said, “No thanks, I'm going a different way”.

Off he went to his fields and the hitchhiker broke into his home, broke into his locked gun cabinet and stole his pistol. He was subsequently caught by the police with the stolen pistol. For stealing the pistol and the subsequent chase in which he crashed the guy's motorcycle which he had stolen as well, he received six months in prison.

The gun owner, the fellow who had his home broken into, was charged for unsafe storage of a firearm. Remember, the firearm was in his locked home, in his locked cabinet, and what penalty did he receive? He received a greater penalty than the thief.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I see the effects of this process in my own riding. When I started in Parliament in 1993, one of the small communities I represented had a post office, a bank, the grain elevator and a small school. The community was vibrant, alive, vigorous and thriving. Through the last few years, particularly last year, this small community has lost its elevators, its bank and the school has shut down. It is literally a ghost town.

Where did the people who lived in this little community supporting the rural area go? Some of them have left and gone to the city. They were doing double duty in their jobs at that point of time; some driving the school bus, some welding for the communities around and some went into the oil industry. However, their homes are sitting there empty. The only people still there are the senior citizens who have some friends who visit the seniors' lodge.

I had an opportunity to reflect on this when one of the owners of a large farm in the area went to Brazil. He has sold his farm, abandoned our country and has gone to Brazil where he has fresh opportunities. The saddest part of all this is that we will end up without the family farm, as we have lost so many of our fishers from that industry. We will end up with large industrial farms that really provide very little to the local communities. The other sad part is that the rural farm lives, which have undergone huge changes, equipment changes, and which are able to survive with normal economic circumstances, will die unless we look after them, prepare them well and make certain that international issues are dealt with to their benefit.

Supply February 26th, 2004

moved:

That the government reallocate its resources from wasteful and unnecessary programs such as the sponsorship program, or badly managed programs such as the gun registry, to address the agricultural crisis at the farm gate across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, for those watching parliamentary proceedings today, an opposition day is when opposition parties put forward a particular proposition and debate it. The Conservative Party of Canada, as the foremost party in relation to support for rural Canada, has taken that opportunity today. I have 20 minutes to speak on a topic that I could probably spend 20 hours on.

The fact that there is an agricultural crisis in our country is not news to the families who live in rural Canada. I represent a riding that is predominantly rural. The folks in my riding tell me so plainly that this is not news to ranchers. Some of them are being forced into bankruptcy, watching decades of hard work go down the drain, largely because the U.S. border is closed to traffic for their products.

It is not news to sheep farmers as they watch their lambs fatten into less marketable sheep with every passing day. They do not even have the option of sending their culled ewes and rams to eager buyers in Mexico because the U.S. border remains closed.

Thousands of farm families across Canada face financial ruin, if they have not already been forced into bankruptcy.

Imagine for a moment those farmers or ranchers. Through no fault of their own, they will lose their farm--a business that has probably been in the family for generations. They held on for 10 long months since the U.S. border was closed. They looked to the federal government for assistance to save the farm--some help for the individual producer. They looked for a sign that Liberal Ottawa recognizes that a multi-billion dollar industry is about to collapse.

What do we see? We see Canada's new Prime Minister, fresh from his coronation by the Liberal Party, failing to even mention the phrase BSE in the throne speech. We hear rhetoric from the Prime Minister, telling Canadian food inspection agency officials at a photo op in Edmonton that re-establishing international markets for Canadian beef is a national priority.

What are the actions? Where is the emergency aid to help producers get through this crisis? Where are the cash advances for individual livestock producers?

I guess that Haldimand County dairy farmers in the agriculture minister's riding, or farm families near Sedley, Saskatchewan in Wascana, the finance minister's riding, need to be as well connected as B.C. Liberal Jamie Kelley in order to get money from the federal treasury. That is sad.

Then there is the Prime Minister going around the country claiming that he is as mad as Hades that millions of dollars of taxpayers' money was wasted in what one of the Minister of the Environment's assistants called a secret Liberal slush fund.

Watching all this bluster, farm families must wonder: where is the Prime Minister's moral indignation and anger over the fact that thousands of Canadian farm families may have to leave the rural life because of the BSE crisis, years of drought, or ever-thinning profit margins; and what happened to the commitment the Prime Minister made last May when he said that we must show real support and respect for our farmers and their families, and show our appreciation for the burden they carry in contributing to Canada's growth and wealth?

A good place for the Prime Minister to start would be for him to train his eye on the motley collection of poorly designed agricultural programs that the Liberals have foisted on farmers, ranchers and fruit growers year after year.

Here are a few helpful suggestions for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

First, direct the bureaucrats in the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food to listen to what farmers and industry representatives have to say so that federal farm programs function in a way that helps rural Canadians as they grow our food and contribute to the wealth of our nation.

Second, do not seek the input of the agricultural industry and then turn around and give lip service to its concerns while a program is being developed behind closed doors back in Ottawa. Seeking input from farmers should be more than just a public relations exercise.

These common sense ideas should have already been part of the real respect that the Prime Minister promised his new Liberal government would show farmers. He made this promise last May, days before BSE was discovered in just one animal on May 20.

While I am on the subject of BSE and agriculture policy, I would like to remind my friends across the way that it does not exhibit good governance when the Liberals use a national crisis like BSE to blackmail the provinces into signing the agricultural policy framework.

Canadian Federation of Agriculture President Bob Friesen summed it up during an interview last June with the Western Producer when he stated:

It is beyond imagination that the minister would tie a program he cannot sell to farmers and provinces to the BSE crisis to win more support.

That is so sad.

In light of the sponsorship scandal, where false invoices and contracts, and in many cases no contracts, were used to funnel $100 million of taxpayers' money into a secret Liberal slush fund, the term “beyond imagination” will never again be adequate enough to describe the corrupt practices of the Liberal government.

Hon. members on this side of the House will continue to point out where $100 million in taxes could have been better spent. At the very least, all that money should have been used for the benefit of all Canadians, not just the buddies of the Liberals.

Opposition MPs have constantly criticized the Liberal government for years about wasting taxes--money, I remind everyone, that farmers, fellow small business owners and millions of other Canadians have worked very hard to earn.

Here is a litany of Liberal waste that sadly illustrates government contempt for the taxpayer: the HRDC boondoggle; the fuel rebate program that sent cheques to prisoners and the deceased while low income Canadians received nothing; and the continuing saga of the gun registry, making criminals out of duck hunters who are honest individuals.

Is it any wonder that when the finance minister was asked recently about the upcoming government budget he was reported in the Toronto Star as saying that money is fairly tight; however, not for programs and not for friends.

With regard to the supply day motion before the House today, it is obvious that the Liberals should have taken better care of the money in their charge. These funds could well have been spent on agriculture programs. Agriculture programs, by the way, that are better designed than the federal government's recent initiatives, like those to compensate producers for the severe effect that BSE has had on the livestock industry.

Let us take the $120 million federal cull cow and bull program, for example. This program was not announced until international borders had already shut out Canadian livestock producers for six months.

When the borders slammed shut, a huge backlog of slaughtered cows was created. To make matters worse, the federal cull cow and bull program was so badly developed that British Columbia and Alberta, two of the largest provinces when it comes to ranching, refused to join up. Industry representatives roundly criticized the federal cull program as well.

Poorly designed national agriculture programs are not solely a product of the BSE crisis. The agriculture industry across Canada is getting used to cumbersome, underfunded farm programs being put forward by the Liberal government.

Instead of focusing on getting federal assistance to the farm gate, the Liberals seem driven to introduce a whole range of anti-rural policies that are designed to harass farmers, not help them.

For example, $630,000 was budgeted in the supplementary estimates for 2003-04 under Environment Canada to implement the Species at Risk Act. However, the federal government still will not guarantee compensation to landowners whose land is taken out of production in order to protect wildlife habitat.

The Liberal government will also not provide any assurance that farmers will not carry the majority of the burden regarding environmental issues relating to the Kyoto accord. The question is still out as to whether the government will reintroduce new animal cruelty legislation that may leave farmers at the mercy of litigant hungry animal rights extremists because they practise time honoured animal husbandry practices.

Why have the Liberals not made agriculture spending a higher priority during their decade in power? Could it be that they do not represent very many of the agricultural ridings in this country?

Let us start by looking at the agricultural policy framework, the flawed flagship of Liberal farm policy, better known as the APF.

When the former Prime Minister and the former agriculture minister, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, announced a five year $5.2 billion investment in agriculture at an eastern Ontario farm in June 2002, there was quite a bit of fanfare until it was recognized that this funding was actually a reduced funding commitment from the prior funding.

I can go through the figures; however, because time is relatively tight in this debate I will not go through all the figures.

Why is this issue such a blind spot for the Liberal government and its bureaucrats? Why did the Liberals fail to provide compensation to the grain and oilseed producers who bear the burden of trade injury--trade injury, of course, because of issues offshore that our farmers have absolutely no control over?

It is the Liberal government that has dropped the ball on the international trade file. Trade is a federal responsibility. Provinces should not be asked to pay for trade injury compensation.

Ottawa must break out of the mindset that says grain and oilseed farmers should fight other countries' agricultural subsidies by growing commodities that are not impacted by foreign governments.

When the member for Wascana was the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, he told farmers who looked to the federal government for assistance that they would just have to diversify their operations.

Farmers did exactly that, not because of his advice, but because they are wise enough to know that is the way to go. The growers and processors of pulse crops built up a vibrant industry. Six years ago Canada's crop was only 10% as large as that of the U.S. In 2003 that number has risen to 28%.

However, the inclusion of peas, lentils and chickpeas in American subsidy programs introduced in 2002 means that Canadian farmers have to contend again with the impact of the U.S. treasury subsidizing another set of commodity prices.

Our farmers and the thousands of secondary businesses that depend on a strong agriculture industry do not have an infinite capacity to deal with factors beyond their control. They are factors such as the continuing closure of the border because of a case of BSE in the State of Washington, years of drought, and the effect of those foreign subsidies.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada economists state that, for the first time since records were kept in the 1920s, realized net farm income across Canada will be in the red. What a tragedy in this country.

One of Canada's prominent agriculture journalists put it this way “The farm economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan are awash in red ink”.

This is also true for Quebec. Indeed, that province is experiencing the same problems as the other provinces of Canada.

Alberta's loss in realized net farm income amounted to $230 million in 2003. In Saskatchewan farmers were $465 million in the red last year. Realized net farm income in Ontario was also in the negative, to the tune of $44 million. The farm income losses on the Prairies last year were worse than the statistics during the great depression in the 1930s.

The Prime Minister and his cabinet simply must place a higher priority on farm issues, and on rural Canada in general.

My colleagues who will be following me will go through the positive suggestions that the Conservative Party of Canada brings to this important debate.

I will be spending a few minutes talking about one of the saddest components of this debate. We did note in the heading for the debate that there were programs that were completely inappropriate, money wasted. I will be spending a little time on the firearm registry, the long gun registry and the duck hunter registry.

This program, which was touted by the Liberal government as being a means to control crime, a means to control suicides and a means to control the inappropriate use of firearms, targeted those individuals in our society, the rural people, who use these firearms as tools. They have tools that they must use.

I am a very keen, active outdoorsman and a hunter myself. I do not use a firearm any longer. I hunt mostly with a bow and arrow as a sporting gesture, but I have hunted all my life.

During the debate, I pointed out to the Liberal government three major problems with the firearm registry. First, compliance would never be 100%, even for law-abiding citizens. Of course crooks and bank robbers would never comply. Second, the criminal misuse of firearms would never be impacted by a registry. Third, the costs would be enormous.

I had the then justice minister cross the floor, sit down beside me and say that those were good, intellectual arguments, but that the new computer systems would make the last point of my argument moot, that the new computers would make it so easy for people to register that the second part of my argument would also be moot and that would force the crooks in society to be obvious, when they did not register that they were crooks.

Over the years of this registry, it has been sad to watch those predictions come true. The waste of money on that program, supported by individuals who quite frankly do not understand the rural use of firearms, the hunters' use of firearms, the sporting use of firearms, has put a block between rural individuals in Canada and those in government.

It would be so easy to alter this. It would so easy to explain that a mistake was made, that this process was not effective, that it would not get full compliance, that it would not prevent crime and that it cost too much.

This is now my advice to the Prime Minister. Stop the firearm registry. Take the funds that are being poured into that registry and put them into programs that Canadians desire. Rural Canadians, in this case, would benefit from that.

As I said, my colleagues who will follow will have an opportunity to lay out the positive things now. I have talked simply about the issue, the crisis and the major problems in rural Canada.

It has been an honour to represent a rural riding in this House. The riding of Macleod, from the south boundary of Calgary down almost to the U.S. border, has some of the finest ranching in this world. It has historically been buffalo range, with the long flowing grass. Some of the famous buffalo jumps in Canada are in my riding.

These farmers and ranchers are the most self-sufficient individuals on earth. They ask for little, and they want little from government. They want to be left alone. However, when there is a crisis outside their control, they look for the taxpayer to help. They need that help today and they need it in very specific ways.

As I say, it has been an honour to represent them and it is an honour to lead this debate on rural issues today.

Sponsorship Program February 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, here is the way the slush fund worked. No application was necessary. Only Liberal friends need to apply and no commission payable, it has already been skimmed.

Do members know what they tried to do? They put $5,000 into my own riding. The difference is I did not get a kickback. Why did Liberals get kickbacks?

Sponsorship Program February 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister who makes this claim, let me quote the Privy Council Secretary who said this under oath. Kathy O'Hara said, “The sponsorship program actually wasn't a program until December 2002”. That is her quote, the PCO Secretary.

How many cabinet ministers accessed this fund before December 2002?

Sponsorship Program February 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal sponsorship mess did not become a government program until December 2002, when Liberals were caught by the Auditor General. Before that time it was a secret Liberal slush fund.

Why was this fund used to benefit Liberal friends and ad companies?

Sponsorship Program February 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing scrupulous about taking money from taxpayers and feeding it to Liberal hands.

The Prime Minister promised the resignation of anybody who knew about this. We now know the environment minister knew about this scandal. My simple question is, has the Prime Minister sought the disappearance of the environment minister, yes or no?

Sponsorship Program February 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister stood in the House and personally vouched for every single member of his cabinet. He said that he asked the question did they know of any wrongdoing in the sponsorship program and the answer was no. We now know that was wrong. The environment minister is up to his neck in this scandal.

How can the Prime Minister continue to say he knew nothing about it?

Sponsorship Program February 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal culture of corruption runs now from coast to coast.

Jamie Kelley spilled the beans on how one can access this secret Liberal slush fund. Number one, be a Liberal. Number two, be a Liberal. Number three, be a Liberal.

The environment minister, the Prime Minister's own supporter, knew all about it. His constituency staff knew all about it. How can the Prime Minister still pretend that he knew nothing about it?

Sponsorship Program February 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said today that this is not a Quebec scandal, that it is a national scandal. That is not true. This is a scandal of the Liberal Party of Canada, wasteful mess piled on wasteful mess.

Does the Prime Minister really expect us to believe that he and his party are going to get out of this mess by blaming a few heads of crown corporations?