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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forward.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Progressive Conservative MP for Brandon—Souris (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Library and Archives of Canada Act May 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Progressive Conservative Party vote yes on this motion.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, members of the Progressive Conservative Party will vote no. Would you please record the member for Calgary Centre as voting no as well.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy May 26th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I thank the right hon. gentleman from Calgary Centre for allowing me to speak after him for a short period of time on this very important issue. I also thank the right hon. gentleman for taking the initiative in putting forward his request for this emergency debate. Coming from Alberta and from cattle country, I know he recognizes the importance of this issue. I know he recognizes the importance of the livelihoods that are currently being affected, not only in his constituency but also in many constituencies across this country.

I would like to open my remarks by saying something that I just said in the agriculture committee a few moments ago. I congratulate the CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and its staff for what I consider to be a yeoman's duty and job on this incident. I will never congratulate the government, but I will congratulate the department itself. It has kept an open line of communication, and it is transparent. It is a very serious issue, which the department dealt with immediately.

When officials found out there was a case in Alberta, it did not take CFIA very long to get the second test performed in our own labs in Winnipeg and to get a third test, confirming that test, out of London, England. The officials did what they had to do, and that in itself speaks to what the right hon. gentleman just talked about and that is the absolutely, totally safe food supply we have in Canada. I stand by that.

I say to every Canadian who will listen that we are very blessed to have a system in place to catch this type of incident. The fact is if that system were not in place, we would be suspect, but we are not suspect. We have very talented people in place. We have excellent individuals within CFIA who are prepared to put an effort into to ensure we have the safest food supply, not only in North America but in the world.

As mentioned by the right hon. member, one incident of BSE has been identified. I will not pronounce it as my colleague from South Shore did, but will just use the term BSE. In some 13.4 million cattle in Canada, one incident of this disease has been found. That is not to downplay what has happened because one incident is too much as we have seen already by the ramifications of that incident. What it tells us is that out of 13.4 million cattle, the process worked.

This debate tonight is more of an information session for the public than it is for us in the House. We in the House agree to the fact that our food supply is safe. The public has to recognize that this one incident involved an animal that never made it into the food chain. Provincial inspectors in Alberta caught the animal and disqualified it from the food chain. It went through a different process, and that is the rendering process. It did not get into the food chain, and that is a positive thing to know.

The CFIA got to work at that point in time and quarantined the case herd up in northern Alberta. Those animals were tested. Unfortunately, the only way to test is by depopulating the animal herd, and this was done. Officials tested all those animals and found they were free of BSE, as was expected by the way.

I had a conference call this past week with one of the doctors in which I asked him why the animals had to be destroyed. I told him I knew they had to test for BSE and that this herd probably did not have any other animals with this disease. The answer the doctor gave me was to bring consumer confidence back. He said that they were 99.999% assured that not one animal in that herd had BSE but the herd was put down simply to ensure people that we have confidence in our system. No other animals had BSE. I am sure the other quarantined herds that will be depopulated and will probably also be destroyed will show there is no other incidents of BSE. The system is all about that. It is about getting confidence back into the system.

I would just like to touch on a couple of things very quickly. One is to say to the government, let us be proactive in this issue and not reactive. That was touched on very eloquently by the right hon. member. We should not worry about nickels and dimes here. We have to ensure that the proper supports are put into place to ensure that the people, who are currently suffering, suffer no longer.

People in my constituency have called me and cry because they have no idea, no confidence, no understanding as to what will happen to them and their livelihoods from this day forward. We need to have systems in place. Financial systems, yes, but we also need to have social support systems in place to be supportive. We have agricultural people in every community in the country. Let us those people and that resource to assist the people who are currently in jeopardy. It is deep, serious jeopardy. Financially, yes, we have to have systems in place. Forget nickel and diming, as I said, and let us ensure we have it.

As the member said, when we had issues with the ice storm across Quebec and Ontario, dollars were there magically. Let us make dollars appear magically right now and let us ensure that those people who have those herds, who cannot sell those fat cattle and who cannot pay their farm payments right now have that support.

I had more people phone me up in the last week to say that they would be unable to generate enough cash to make their payments in the summer. As we probably know, or should know, agriculture payments are usually semi-annual, one in the summer and one in the fall. Unfortunately, now is the time they need the cash and they cannot get it. Maybe we should put in programs right now that allow Farm Credit Canada to allow dollars to flow so those people can make their payments or extend their payments. At least it would give them some confidence that there is some future for them.

We talked about not just the producers being affected, but the people on the periphery around agriculture, and they are substantial. It is a $30 billion industry if we take in the trucking, the auction marts and the packing plants. People do not know whether they will have a job today, tomorrow or next week. We have to put the support systems in place. That is proactive. Let us take it off the shelf, put it on the table and say how we will help those people who now have some difficulties.

That is the minister's responsibility, the department's responsibility and the government's responsibility. They have to react quickly because right now there are too many people who do not see a tomorrow. We have to give them a tomorrow and we have to give them hope so they can feed their families, pay their mortgages and make the payment that is on the baling equipment sitting in their backyard.

The last thing I would like to say is Canadians must recognize that this is a one-of occurrence, we hope. I should say there are some positive things. Let us give the producers some hope.

One thing I have seen over the last week is that the Americans, as I understand, want this border open as quickly as we do. I can honestly say, and again I will give some credit where credit is due, we have not had a terribly good relationship with the Americans on a number of issues, agriculture being one. We have country of origin labelling and we have other issues with which this government and this ministry did not deal very well. However, I can give it some credit where credit is due; it has dealt with this.

The Americans have been helping. They have USDA people here. They have been helping with making lab facilities available for us. They know they need us as badly as we need them. If there is a little ray of sunshine, Secretary of Agriculture Veneman certainly wants this issue resolved as quickly as we want it resolved, as quickly as the producers who have their trucks sitting at the border with fat cattle sitting in them want it resolved.

I can see that this has some positive opportunities to it. I hope it is not a week, three weeks or three months that this issue has to go before we can resolve it. I hope we can deal with this in the next 24 hours. I would like to hear from the minister, when he gets up to respond, just what kind of a timeline he sees because there are too many people in my constituency and constituencies across the country who need that little ray of hope. We do not need something dangled out there saying that it will happen. We know it will happen but we need it to happen sooner. We need it to happen now.

I pledge, and I know my leader, the right hon. gentleman will also pledge, as much support as we can give them as the Progressive Conservative Party to make this work.

Agriculture May 26th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, mad cow disease along with the new cases of SARS have delivered a one-two crippling punch to the Canadian economy. What Canadians needed was somebody to instill confidence, someone to demonstrate real leadership. Eating one steak does not cut it. People's livelihoods are threatened. The future of a $30 billion industry is in jeopardy.

My question is for the Prime Minister. What kind of compensation package, what kinds of support payments will be in place for producers, truckers, auction houses and packing plants?

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 16th, 2003

Madam Speaker, what a great question. I thank my colleague for it. That is one area I have not had the opportunity of talking about in my 20 minute dissertation.

Absolutely: How can we have any faith and how can there be any credibility in a finance minister or a finance department that year after year underestimates the surplus, not by dollars but by billions and tens of billions of dollars? There is no credibility left.

I think the reason why the previous finance minister, the leadership candidate from LaSalle—Émard, did it was that he wanted to keep it out of the sticky fingers of the backbenchers over there, who probably wanted to spend it on that shotgun approach that I talked about. So yes, it loses credibility in the management of the department.

It is not the bureaucrats. It is not those people. I blame this on the political masters who have tried to hide this whole transparency of the budgetary process and the surpluses that were generated. Then what did they did they do? They put it into the deficit and that is fine, but let us be honest. Of those surpluses, had they been honest with Canadians they could have given some of those surpluses back, not only in tax reductions to the Canadian taxpayer, but they could have reduced the EI payments that we are talking about right now. They could have put that back to the employers and the employees and not have them pay those exorbitant premiums in EI. Any of the surplus in the EI, which is a different pool of funding, goes into general revenues now, which again, I am convinced, is totally illegal but is happening.

The problem is the government has lost its credibility. It has lost its ability to say it is a good manager. After its 10 years in power, even the Canadian public is recognizing that this is a government totally out of control.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 16th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I heard one of his colleagues say great job. I guess if that is all they can see as being an example of a great job, then I understand why they are floundering as badly as they are currently. The government the Liberals have is obviously entrenched in this mismanagement philosophy and that just exacerbates it right there.

I find it interesting, however, that when the parliamentary secretary stood up one of the first things he did was obviously to blame us as the previous government prior to 1993, which was 10 years ago, so let us always use a decade ago and let us not take any responsibility.

What really hurt me the most is when he stood and he blamed the provinces for their health care woes. That is sort of like the Prime Minister blaming the previous member for Perth—Middlesex for losing the election. I think that probably is part of their speaking notes they receive every morning: “When you get hammered on something, blame someone else”. They point the finger of blame somewhere else, as they did with SARS, with agriculture and with every other of those mismanaged areas I talked about.

The member did have one legitimate comment to make when he talked about the reduction of spending versus GDP. It is true that they now have it at 12% of GDP. We must also appreciate the fact that the spending on programs has increased by 7.3%. Spending on those faulty programs they have, including the gun registry, has increased by 7.3%, but yes, it has reduced it as its proportionate share of GDP. However, the reason for this is that our GDP has increased because of the free trade agreement we signed. We have an economy that is very strong because we can sell our goods and services. We can sell our goods and services because we have rules based trade agreements with our largest trading partner, the United States.

It does not take a rocket scientist. In fact, it does not take really much logical thinking at all, but that is maybe stretching it a bit and asking these people to understand that. What it means is that we have a larger economy. We have a larger economy because of all the free trade agreements, the GST that was put into place and the financing arrangements that we had prior to 1993. I wish the Liberals would recognize that and at least give some credit where credit is due.

Yes, it has decreased because the economy has increased, but that does not just happen automatically. It does not happen on the day that the electorate goes to the polls and we get these, no, I cannot use the term, we get this government in place and then all of a sudden the skies are all clear. It does not happen. Those programs were in place prior to 1993. They are programs that the government is taking advantage of right now.

Unfortunately, when it turns, and it will, because they have no vision, no understanding of how to handle anything and manage anything, then the Liberals will be responsible. They will be held responsible.

By the way, the member never did talk about this. Why do we not go with this budget to the people and let them decide as to whether or not it is a good budget? Maybe he would like to answer that question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 16th, 2003

They have destroyed health care as my good colleague has said.

In the post-1993 election, the Liberals arbitrarily gutted health care. Now all of a sudden in this budget, money has been put back into health care. Unfortunately, it just takes us back to the 1995 levels. What the government did, and this is really deplorable, is it arbitrarily took cash away from the provinces and put the blame for health care on them.

There is a term cooperative federalism. The government does not understand cooperative federalism. It does not understand cooperation in just about anything. It is arbitrary and unfortunately the Liberals have to pay for it. The Liberals paid for it on Monday night and they will certainly pay for it in elections to come.

Madam Speaker, I am sure you would much rather be outside in the sunshine than in here listening to me rant on the budget, but my time will be up very shortly and I am just beginning to roll.

We can talk about what the Liberals did not touch in the budget. They used the shotgun approach. They made all of these wonderful expenditures where the Prime Minister is trying to pay off all of his little debts before he leaves. What they did not do was talk about the real vision of what was required.

In my previous life before coming to the House, I found that it was always better to keep money in the pockets of the people who pay the taxes. This is really a simple philosophy. The member for Regina--Qu'Appelle probably will not share this philosophy with me, but it is better to keep the money in the pockets of the people who pay the taxes. They know how to spend the money better.

The finance minister has stood in the House and I think he used the term “northern tiger”. That was probably one of the biggest heights of hypocrisy I have ever heard, calling us the northern tiger, because he has never implemented any policies on tax reform that would give any indication that we are heading in the direction of being a northern tiger. The real tigers are the economies of Ireland and Hong Kong. Those are the economies that have used tax deductions and tax reductions to the benefit of the consumer, to the benefit of their citizens, to develop those economies that can be referred to as tigers.

We would be better referred to as the economy of the pussycats. We have effectively no tax reduction. We have absolutely no understanding as to how this economy could be better served by the Liberals not spending the money on HRDC, not spending the money on the gun registry, not spending the money on all of those black holes that the Prime Minister has put into place. It is better to make tax reductions, tax rebates and tax cuts, not only to Canadian consumers and taxpayers but to the corporations. Then we could develop a thing called a positive business environment that certainly would attract people to this country.

There are a couple of things. Let us reduce those taxes. Let us reduce the capital gains tax. Let us reduce the levels of taxation. In Canada the highest margin of taxes is at $100,000. In the United States it is at $400,000. We already are dealing in a deficit. Our Canadian children who have talent are going to go to other places rather than stay in this country which is deplorable, but the government is forcing them to leave. That in itself is deplorable.

Let us make some changes and reforms to the taxation system. What would the Liberals rather do? They would rather play with a piece of legislation that is going to deal with political financing because that is the Prime Minister's agenda, not making it better for Canadians with tax reductions. Why is the Prime Minister's agenda on political funding? Because he is vindictive enough to try to get the people on the back benches, to get the people on his own front benches who are running for leadership. That is why he has that agenda and not the agenda that is best for Canadians, not whether there will be tax cuts, not the situation with the sex offenders act, not the priorities of Canadians in general. That is deplorable.

I am going to sit down right now and let the parliamentary secretary speak. No applause yet. I know the parliamentary secretary is going to talk about the $42 billion deficit but he is not going to defend his government's mismanagement of every other thing that I have said here today. I want him to stand and tell me how he can defend the gun registry, how the health minister could stick her head in the sand when the SARS issue was prevalent in Ontario, how the Liberals could stick their heads in the sand while they destroyed the health care system, how they could stick their heads in the sand while they destroyed the softwood lumber industry, and how they could stick their heads in the sand when they destroyed agriculture. I want to hear those answers from the parliamentary secretary.

This has been a great week. Congratulations to Gary Schellenberger and congratulations to the citizens of Perth--Middlesex who have made the very wise choice to send a Progressive Conservative to the House. I can assure members that he will be on that side of the bench in the not too distant future. I do hope that the Liberals have the intestinal fortitude to call an election this spring with the current Prime Minister. We would love to go to the polls.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 16th, 2003

Fisheries I have to admit is not really my field of expertise, but it demonstrates the government's mismanagement.

We talked about gun registration. We talked about the government's inability to deal with agriculture. We talked about its inability to deal with fisheries. At any level, the government has destroyed pretty much everything that was left in the fisheries. The Liberals stick their heads in the sand and do not want to take responsibility for it. The government has destroyed the softwood lumber industry. It is gone.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 16th, 2003

And agriculture was not mentioned. My community is certainly dependent upon agriculture.

The Minister of Agriculture stood in the House and said to me that we would have in place a risk management program in his APF, the agricultural policy framework, by April 1, 2003, the year the new budget was to start. A budget was put in place. Dollars were put in place. The government has announced 75 times a contribution to agriculture of $5.2 billion over the next six years, not just this budget year. We have less money in this budget year than we had in the last budget year for agriculture, and we have substantially more difficulties in the industry.

My good friend the member for Regina--Qu'Appelle mentioned the U.S. farm bill. He also mentioned the U.S. subsidies and the European subsidization of agriculture. Our industry is not competing on a level playing field right now. It is competing way out of its league. We do not have the same fallback positions that the Europeans and Americans have.

There are two issues. One is we do not have the plan in place which the minister promised us by April 1. We do not have money for our farmers. They are out in the fields right now without any understanding at all as to how there is going to be any kind of business risk management fallback for them. This could be their last year farming because the minister has mismanaged everything he has touched.

I would like to talk about 1993 and the deficit. Ever since the Liberals put their agricultural policy in place everything has turned downward. There has not been a positive year in agriculture since they touched the file. They have to get out of the way. They should not touch the file. We would be better off if the government did not have a minister of agriculture than what we have right now.

There is no money in the industry. There is no planning for the industry. We have no relationship with our major trading partner, the United States. Fifty per cent of what is produced in agriculture is sent to the United States. The Minister of Agriculture probably does not know the name of the United States secretary of agriculture. The government is depending on the American Republicans and the American industry to stop what is known as the country of origin labelling requirements contained in the U.S. farm bill. We have to depend on the Americans to fight our battles. The point is the government should get out of the way and let somebody else take on the file.

Let me speak about the budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 May 16th, 2003

It gets beyond idiotic. This is how bad it is. There are members of our military in Afghanistan, and I can put faces on these people because there is a base in my riding, who are very dedicated, very professional people.

The Minister of National Defence has sent our people over to Afghanistan and said “By the way guys, you cannot have guns”. The government on the other side of the House messed up so badly that we put our guys in danger without their being able to have guns in Kabul. That is possibly the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous place on this globe and we put our guys in danger.

What are they supposed to do? When they run into a situation over there, our guys are supposed to put out their arm, point a finger and say “Stop, bang”. It is ridiculous. What kind of management is that? What kind of minister is it who would put our people in danger?

Not only that, we are supposed to find $200 million in that department so we can pay for the gun registry. Maybe they took their guns away. Maybe the people in the military did not register their guns and they cannot take them over there because of that.

We could talk about the Sea King helicopters. Do we want to talk about the budget? Let us talk about the budget. Let us talk about mismanagement. The parliamentary secretary is going to stand and say that there was $42 billion worth of deficit. That was 10 years ago and the mismanagement by that government of that department is absolutely renowned.

A helicopter, the EH-101 was approved in 1992. We would have had the helicopters in place flying right now with our military in safe equipment but what happened? The Prime Minister said “We say no to helicopters”. What was the cost of that political statement? It was $1 billion, the same amount it would have cost to buy the helicopters in the first place. It took $500 million to pay for the cancellation of the contract and another $500 million to fix the helicopters over the last 10 or 12 years. That is mismanagement and it is reflected everywhere in the budget.

More mismanagement and what is not reflected in this budget? Agriculture. I come from an area whose whole economic engine is driven by agriculture. And we will get to fisheries. My friend from St. John's is here and we could talk fisheries when we talk about mismanagement.