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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

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 20th, 1997

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-4, in Clause 3, be amended

(a) by replacing lines 7 to 14 on page 3 with the following:

“3.02 (1) The directors are elected in accordance with section 3.06 to 3.08 and the regulations. The president shall be appointed by the board.”

(b) by deleting lines 15 to 17 on page 3.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-4, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing lines 18 and 19 on page 5 with the following:

“pleasure for the term that the board of directors may determine.”

The Late Robert Thompson November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Dr. Robert Thompson who came to this House in 1962 to represent his constituents of Red Deer, Alberta and to lead the Social Credit Party at a time of great political change.

He served in the House from 1962 until 1972, a decade. What a decade in political life. In those ten years there were five general elections. The Social Credit Party which Bob Thompson led in 1962 was a power to be reckoned with in the west and in Quebec.

Press accounts of the day paint a picture of a new leader and a new party running against the establishment. When the Social Credit Party collapsed, he ran successfully as a Progressive Conservative and in 1968 he was a member until the general election in 1972.

Bob Thompson served his country in Parliament and also in the Royal Canadian Air Force when Canada was engaged in pilot training during World War II.

He served humanity as an educator here and in Ethiopia. He was a minister of education in the imperial Ethiopian government from 1947 until 1951. After his political life, he maintained his interest in teaching and public affairs. In 1982 he prepared a model constitution for Canada.

His strong religious faith is reflected in his coat of arms, the motto being translated “In the will of God”. Mr. Thompson was made an officer of the Order of Canada in national recognition of his service.

Today the House of Commons pays tribute to him. In doing so, we thank his family for sharing him with Canada. His eight children and his widow Evelyn had less of his presence and time because of his public service.

Today we mourn him, we honour his memory and we thank his family for sharing him with this House and with Canada.

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to refer to Hansard because he asked the question—

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again on Bill C-4 and to deal with the three amendments in Group No. 2. One of them is mine and two are from hon. members of the Reform Party. I promise to be relevant, as relevant as members on the government side have been. I promise not to be boring. I hope that will please the Chair.

I will clarify a couple of points. I do not believe anybody on this side of the House necessarily wants to see the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. It is very important to recognize that. We are simply saying that we have the opportunity to make this the best possible legislation available so that western Canadian producers are able to take advantage of new techniques and new opportunities within legislation. The legislation as put forward does not allow that to happen. It is simply a regurgitation of the existing legislation with some minor amendments.

Usually when legislation is being proposed there is at least one segment of the society affected that would totally support it. I can honestly say the government in its wisdom has alienated just about everyone. There is no one who totally supports the legislation.

I asked a number of witnesses in committee whether the divisiveness among producers in western Canada would stop, whether they would be happy to go forward with the legislation. To a person, including those in support of Bill C-4, they said it would not stop divisiveness, that it would not stop the anger with respect to the controls Bill C-4 would place on producers in western Canada.

I will speak to the three motions put forward in Group No. 2. The first one, the deletion of clause 2, put forward by the hon. member for Peace River, says that the act is binding on Her Majesty in the right of Canada or a province.

I also clarify that when dealing with provinces I do not believe anybody on this side of the House would suggest members of government should not have the opportunity to debate any piece of legislation or to put their opinions forward on any piece of legislation, no matter where they come from. Whether they come from Prince Edward Island or from Vancouver Island, it is very important for elected members of the House to have the opportunity to put forward their opinions.

I hope Canadians realize the legislation affects only producers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and a very small portion of British Columbia. When individuals from Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland or Quebec, my good friends from Quebec, deal with the legislation I would expect them to listen to and understand the views put forth by those people who come forward.

I did not see that happen in committee. I saw people put forward their concerns and their views, but they were not listened to. If they had been listened to, the amendments we are speaking to right now would have passed at committee stage.

It was an opportunity for me to be at a committee hearing for the first time. I actually thought we could include better amendments that would make the legislation workable. It did not happen for the simple reason it was a foregone conclusion. The witnesses were in effect wasting their breath in speaking to us. It would have been nicer if we had listened and taken their concerns under advisement.

The provinces that are being affected should be listened to, the people of those provinces should be listened to and the provincial governments of those provinces should be listened to. Two of the three provincial governments accept the fact that there should be some major changes. One unfortunately decided that the particular legislation should be maintained.

The second motion was spoken to most eloquently by my colleague in the Reform Party. It deals with the contingency clause. It is important for Canadians to understand what it is all about.

There are three pillars to the Canadian Wheat Board. The first pillar is that of pooling. We will get into that a little later when we talk about the options or the opt in and opt out and the opportunity of cash buying. That is not being dealt with in this amendment. It will be dealt with later.

The second pillar of the Canadian Wheat Board is monopoly. We have talked a lot about monopoly purchasing and the selling of one commodity, particularly wheat. We will get into that as well at a later date when considering other amendments.

The third pillar of the Canadian Wheat Board, which is not necessarily a bad one, is that of government guarantees. The reason we have the Canadian Wheat Board is that the federal government guaranteed producers initial payments and adjusted payments.

The reason I mention this is that the contingency fund being proposed in the legislation concerns not only me but producers. The reason it concerns producers is that there is an opportunity for the Canadian Wheat Board and the government to charge producers, whether it be per bushel or per tonne, whether it be $1 or whether it be 10¢. We do not know that yet. That will be struck by the board. It will have the opportunity via a tax to have a contingency fund that could be in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. It could be half a billion dollars if that is the way the Canadian Wheat Board wants to operate.

The danger is that ultimately if there is a contingency fund in those numbers the Canadian Wheat Board or the government could say there is no need for particular guarantees from governments. Guarantees could be funded out of a contingency fund. This is a very serious danger to the existing Canadian Wheat Board and certainly to producers themselves.

There are some advantages and disadvantages, but the majority of people who spoke to us, whether pro or against the Canadian Wheat Board, indicated their desire not to have a contingency fund. I have talked to producers, as have other members on this side of the House, who had serious concerns about the contingency fund.

In this amendment we are saying that the contingency fund should be removed from the legislation and the guarantees of government should simply be put back into place.

The government wants a Canadian Wheat Board which is subject to the controls of government, of its executive officer and of members of the board. If 10 of 15 board members are to be elected it does not mean the Canadian Wheat Board will be accountable to producers. It will still be accountable to the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board. It is written in the legislation that the minister has the final authority and say. We should not be confused by the fact that 10 of 15 members will be accountable.

It should be made a truly elected board by having 15 of the 15 members elected by producers. It could be made a truly democratic process by having the board hire the chief executive officer. That makes sense corporately and has to be done.

My amendment speaks to the exclusion clause. As the member for Peace River indicated, it is a marriage between two clauses, an exclusion clause and an inclusion clause.

In Bill C-72, the predecessor bill, inclusion was never mentioned. Now it is in this bill. When asked at committee why there was an inclusion clause, the answer was simple: if we have exclusion then we have to have inclusion. It was not a good answer.

We asked people who appeared before committee if they would be prepared to give up their exclusion rights to get rid of inclusion. We literally heard from dozens of organizations and only three did not want it. Almost unanimously they said that in order to get rid of inclusion they would give up exclusion.

The motion has been put forward to get rid of exclusion. The motion should pass. We will deal with inclusion when that motion is being debated.

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 20th, 1997

moved:

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat reluctant to speak on this piece of legislation which has gone through committee and returned to the floor of the House. The reason I am reluctant is because we have been talking about participation in the process, as the hon. member from the governing benches indicated. Quite frankly, I am disappointed in the opportunity we were given to participate in the process.

I am sure most Canadians recognize that this is probably the most important piece of legislation which will affect the western Canadian producer in this session of Parliament.

The minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board had an opportunity to put forward legislation which in fact would take the producers of western Canada into the 21st century, taking into consideration the open global marketplace that we have today. He certainly had an opportunity to put into place legislation which would allow producers in western Canada to take full advantage of the produce they are producing currently at world prices.

The minister said that he was going to listen to all of those people who were prepared to appear before the committee. He wanted to hear their comments. He wanted to make sure their comments were embodied in this legislation. Quite frankly, the process that we went through in committee was, in my estimation, a railroad job.

The legislation was put through committee in record time. We were not allowed to listen to all of the opinions of all of the people who wanted to come forward.

I will give the House two examples. In committee I put forward an amendment to bring the minister back to the committee. The minister said, in his own words, that he wanted to come back to the committee after we had heard the witnesses to be able to hear what positions were being taken by those individuals. I asked the committee to extend the period of time that it was sitting to invite the minister back and I was turned down on that request. The minister I believe would have come back but the committee did not want to waste the time to hear all of those comments.

I also suggested that there is a parallel organization called the Ontario Wheat Board which has a fully elected board of directors, which has certain freedoms for its own producers that are not allowed in this particular piece of legislation. I would have liked to have heard from those individuals. The Liberal members of the government in committee would not allow us to subpoena or bring those people before the committee to hear how they operate.

As I said earlier, there was obviously an opportunity for the legislation to do what it should have done for the next numbers of years on behalf of our producers. I come from an area which is referred to as the wheat city. This legislation is very important. No one, I do not believe, really wanted to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board. All we wanted to do in this legislation was to make sure that it is more competitive in today's market and today's world.

As for this preamble, this amendment that is before us, Motion No. 1, I cannot see why any member of this House, including the government, would not support it. As the parliamentary secretary indicated, the government wishes to have the producers in charge of their own marketing corporation.

All this preamble says is that the corporation will be working for the producers. Why not put that in the legislation so that it is there and people and the corporation recognize it is for the producers and not for the Government of Canada, not for the Minister of Agriculture, nor for the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board?

My party will be supporting Motion No. 1. In fact it is somewhat reminiscent of certain other motions that follow behind this. I know we will be dealing with them at another time in other areas.

I would also like to say that the government takes great pride in saying that this new legislation will make the Canadian Wheat Board accountable to producers, will make it transparent and certainly will make it accountable.

Quite frankly, the only way it will be accountable is if it has the full board of directors elected by the producers themselves and not have five of those directors appointed by the federal government.

There is another serious concern and that will be spoken to later in the amendments with respect to the appointment of the chief executive officer, the president. This will take many hours of debate to make sure that the government recognizes that an appointed CEO is just simply another arm of the federal government and not accountable to the producers themselves.

I am very pleased to be able to stand here and suggest that Motion No. 1 will be supported by my party when it comes to the vote and if indeed the Canadian Wheat Board is accountable to the producers, it should have that said specifically in the body of the legislation. I cannot see why government would not allow this to happen.

Manitoba Farm Women November 7th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today with great pride to recognize the week of November 3 to 9 as Manitoba Farm Women's Week. Manitoba farm women are essential to the life and the economic stability of the farm, family and community.

I would like to especially mention that the 1997 Manitoba Farm Women's Conference was held this week in my city of Brandon, Manitoba. The conference entitled “Neighbours en route to 2000” featured sessions ranging from child care in rural Manitoba to getting online on the world wide web. There also were presentations on equality, career planning and money management, to mention a few.

It is time that we as Canadians recognize the monumental contribution women have made to our agricultural industry and applaud them.

Petitions November 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of concerned constituents of Brandon—Souris, more particularly the town of Killarney, Manitoba.

It has to do with the abolition of nuclear weapons. It requests parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention that will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

As it seems the House has done such a wonderful job on land mines, I think it is now time to go up one more stage and accept the petition on the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Euthanasia November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, on October 28 I had the opportunity to rise in the House and ask a question of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Quite frankly I thought the question was fairly simple. Obviously the answers were not quite as simple because they were not forthcoming.

I would like to give the House a little background. What I was referring to was the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. This corporation is based in Manitoba. It is fishermen operated and those people who ply their trade in the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northern Ontario are the stakeholders of this corporation.

The concept is fairly simple. The fishermen catch the fish, the marketing board markets the fish and sells them throughout the world and domestically. It has sales in excess of $50 million on world-wide distribution. It is a typical board. It has a chairman that is elected. It has a board that is elected. It has no government subsidies. It works extremely well and it is self-sufficient.

It also has working for it a chief executive officer and president. The current president and chief executive officer has been with the corporation for 16 years. He worked his way up as controller, vice-president of finance and then became the president and general manager, which is what we would all like to do within our corporation. Everything is fine. This is where the sinister of music comes in because unfortunately the government has the ability to appoint the CEO under the Freshwater Fish Marketing Act.

Previous history showed that this particular CEO had extended to him contracts of two and three years. Unfortunately, in April 1997, just before the election, an extension of that contract was issued for only six months, which was a bit strange. After the June election the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced that there was going to be a new president and general manager and he would be Mr. Ron Fewchuk.

I asked a question of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and it was not that tough. My question was would the minister tell me what the qualifications of Mr. Fewchuk were. Would he also tell me if he consulted with the board and the chairman with respect to that appointment?

Well, I did not get an answer. What I got was some gobbledegook but let me tell you what the answer is. The fact of the matter is that the qualifications of Mr. Fewchuk are that he did not run in that riding because he let another member, a fellow by the name of Jon Gerrard who is no longer with the Liberal benches, run in his stead. He retired as a member of Parliament.

Did they ask the board and the chairman? Did they consult with them? The answer is no, they did not consult with the board or the chairman. It was simply a matter of a political appointment.

My second question was quite simple as well. Unfortunately, now that they need a chief executive officer to actually do the work, they are going to retain the services of their current CEO and they are now going to have Mr. Fewchuk also as a CEO. They are now going to have two salaries. My question to the minister was would he simply tell me that the one salary of patronage would be paid for out of the budget of the minister of fisheries. Do not allow those salaries to be paid by the poor fishermen. All they really want to do is fish and make an honest living. I never got an answer to that question either and I hope I can get one this evening.

The problem I have with this is not just simply for the Freshwater Fish Marketing Board, but we are dealing with another bill right now, Bill C-4. The government is fighting to make sure that it has the ability to appoint the CEO. It makes me very nervous because quite frankly there were a number of defeated Liberal members in the last election. I am wondering which one of those will be appointed the CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Food Inspection October 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the concerns Canadians have about our food inspections. Consumers need to be assured that the food they eat is as safe as it can be. There are a number of reasons for this cause of concern.

With the creation of the Canada Food Inspection Agency, the government has estimated that it will save $100 million over the next few years, hopefully not at the expense of the consumers.

Recent reports have suggested that food imports arriving at Canada's borders are not being inspected thoroughly enough. The November 1996 auditor general's report stated that the level of inspection activity aimed at different food products may not be consistent with their potential risk to human health.

It is time for the federal government to recognize that there are improvements which should be made to our food inspection. The questions that have been raised about our food inspection system deserve to be examined by a parliamentary committee. The CFIA must take a stronger federal role in the area of food safety.