Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was agreement.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Provencher (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Trade May 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The United States secretary of agriculture is now sending a team to Brazil to attempt to gather unfounded evidence of alleged Canadian dumping of wheat.

Time and again the Canadian Wheat Board has been found by international tribunals to be trading fairly. The United States is again creating mischief, this time among Canada's trading partners in South America.

Will the minister of agriculture intervene to counter this ongoing harassment and attacks against Canadian farmers by the U.S. government?

Killer Cards May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to address the issue of serial killer cards and games.

It is particularly troubling and indeed perverse to think that someone is profiting from the depiction of such horrific murders which serve to deviously corrupt our young people and attack our basic values of respect for life.

I applaud the Minister of Justice for introducing draft legislation banning the sale of such cards and games. He is leading the way to a more decent and respectful society.

I would encourage members of the justice committee who must now work at ways to refine and strengthen the legislation to follow through with firmness and determination. Let us put an end to this new form of obscenity and hate.

Trade May 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of agriculture.

The Americans are falsely accusing Canadian wheat farmers of dumping their product into U.S. markets and the U.S. has mounted trade sanction attacks against us.

Can the minister advise this House where Canada stands? Will the minister defend the legitimate rights of our Canadian grain producers?

Bosnia May 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to address once again the horrific circumstances that children in Bosnia live with day after terrible day. I have been asked by the children in my riding of Provencher what we can do to help them.

During World War II Canadians helped to evacuate children from danger zones for their safekeeping. Currently a number of European nations are actually helping to evacuate children of the Balkans. Canada has yet to take this step.

This is indeed one way we can help the children of Bosnia. It is my greatest hope the government will take the steps necessary to help preserve those most innocent in the Balkans during this, the year of the family.

Supply April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his question. As he probably knows a payment panel has been studying the issue for some time. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is awaiting the response from the panel to have a look at the proposal.

I assure him that my position is in the best interests of grain farmers in my area. If they tell me they would prefer to use the current system then I will believe them. If they tell me they want to change the system and have a direct cash payment then I will support that.

Just to provide some context, farmers even within my own riding have different views on the issue. Different farmers in close proximity to one another will have different views on what is in their best interests with respect to the payments they receive.

I assure the hon. member and the whole House that our minister, as I said in my opening comments, will study the issue in detail. We want to hear everyone's view on it. We want to do what is in the best interests of western Canadian farmers.

Supply April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his observations and questions. He referred to dairy farmers in his riding and I want to tell him that I have dairy farmers in my riding.

I also point out what I think is important for the purposes of his question. The dairy farmers in my riding are concentrated largely in French communities, primarily French speaking communities. The dairy farmers in Provencher, the southern part of my French communities, are very similar to those in his riding. The operations in 1993 are much the same. I would never suggest that the operations in my hon. friend's riding are somewhat further ahead or further behind those in mine.

I point out again that dairy farmers in Canada, including those in the hon. member's riding, have done quite well in the past 20 years under a Liberal program of supply management. Just to provide the hon. member with ongoing assurance, the government will continue to express that loyalty to the people of Quebec, to provide help for them and to stand up for the dairy farmers in Quebec.

On the second point about slaughterhouses, I am working on a similar kind of proposal with my provincial colleagues in the southeast corner of Provencher. We are anticipating that our exports in the hog and cattle industry are going to double over the next 10 years. We are looking at capitalizing on that in terms of value added.

I would ask the hon. member to have his membership convey their interest in terms of entering into secondary processing with value added to bring benefits to the community. I welcome that kind of interactive process. I can assure the hon. member we are doing everything in government to ensure that young farmers in his area and in my area have the same opportunities as their fathers and grandfathers did under a Liberal government.

Supply April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for those comments. Although I have not read the Free Press to respond accurately to that suggestion, I just want to advise the hon. member that in both his riding of Lisgar-Marquette and my adjacent riding of Provencher the federal government has made a number of investments in terms of the farm community.

He will recall that only two or three weeks ago I had occasion to visit his riding under the PAMWI agreements. I am pleased to report that we made an investment of $3 million under a tripartite agreement, with the federal government contributing $1 million out of its agricultural program to the good people of Winkler.

In keeping with the theme of my friends in the Reform Party, the policies of the federal Government of Canada are equitable. If we give something to a window manufacturer in Winnipeg for a tax break, we certainly have given the same opportunities to the people of Winkler, the town in which my hon. friend resides.

Supply April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to speak to the House about the accomplishments of our government with respect to farm income and safety nets.

As a western Canadian representing a large farming community with both supply management and wheat farmers, the debate today is of particular importance. I welcome debate from members of both the Reform Party and the Bloc on these matters.

While the previous government's plan for safety nets was simply a piecemeal approach, our government looks at farm income and safety nets in a much more comprehensive perspective. In our campaign commitments, this government called for the development of a strong whole farm support.

Our approach is based on simple but effective principles. Farmers and their families need a comprehensive set of programs that will provide income security as they move to adjust and take advantage of the new international trading regime and to generate economic growth in rural communities that is badly needed in this country.

Our government wants to provide farming communities with the tools they need to succeed in the years and the century ahead. I am pleased to report to the Chair that our minister is doing an effective job in that regard.

As we all know, the system of safety nets in Canadian agriculture is a tripartite approach involving producers, provinces and the federal government. There is tremendous diversity and need out there.

We recognize there are different needs in Quebec, different needs in Atlantic Canada, different needs even within Manitoba in the northern and southern parts of the province. My hon. friend from the Reform Party for Lisgar-Marquette will attest to that, being a farmer from that area.

The approach taken by the minister is very open and transparent. Soon after the election the minister established a safety net conference for all players to air their views and concerns. This is the approach we want to take with respect to the whole farm support program. We do not want to have one separate program in Quebec, one separate program in British Columbia and one separate program in Prince Edward Island. We are looking at a

comprehensive national approach. We are meeting with Quebec leaders.

I want to refer, for example, to the GATT discussions that were raised. Our minister spoke to dairy farmers in Quebec and, if I am not mistaken, received a standing ovation. I also want to say that the Liberal government brought in supply management which benefited Quebec farmers greatly for the past 20 years. On the question of loyalty I think we have been very loyal, very representative and fair in our approach to all farmers.

We want the kind of safety nets that will benefit all the needs of our partners. Taxpayers want programs that are financially sound and transparent. Our objective, therefore, is to develop a whole farm support program which will provide equitable support for all commodities, all producers and all provinces; which will not distort based on market signals; which will not influence production decisions; and which is less vulnerable to trade actions. Certainly people in the wheat industry in western Canada know all about trade actions, particularly those invoked most recently by the U.S.

Farmers have seen tremendous safety net changes in the last five years. Some have been good, and we acknowledge the good work, but others have failed due to hasty implementation and because there was no producer acceptance or understanding. The government is committed to full consultation and agreement on an approach that works.

The accomplishments since the safety net conference clearly show that our comprehensive and consultative approach is working. This is not an easy process. People need to talk through their differences. We acknowledge again that there are differences. The parliamentary secretary acknowledged we have to sit down at the negotiating table to work out these differences in the best interests of all Canadian farmers.

The work of the committee over the next six months will be critical in shaping the industry's economic position. To seize opportunities presented by trade accords and growing international markets we need stability and confidence at home. The importance of this point has been impressed upon us particularly again in western communities because of the possible trade war with the U.S.

Stability does not interfere with our capability to be innovative and market responsive, stability that allows us to preserve our resources, stability that works with fiscal realities.

During the electoral campaign our government promised to reinstate interest free cash advances to strengthen the farm debt review process. The minister is consulting with farm groups and has asked the sector to come up with proposals. This is an important issue.

In the committee on banking, for example, we have heard from the farming industry of Quebec, Atlantic Canada and western Canada. These farmers tell us that they cannot get access to capital. Young men and women in Canada cannot buy farms, their parents' farms, because the banks are not willing to do business with them. That is why we as a federal government have stepped into the process through agencies such as the Farm Credit Corporation to open up avenues of resources to young Canadian farmers.

The agriculture and agri-food department is currently reviewing the farm debt review board program, along with other programs, to ensure they meet today's needs in the sector. Again I want to emphasize that we are consulting with the people.

Our government is comfortable with the idea that safety nets help industries stabilize income and ensure against risks the banks are not willing to take on the Canadian farming industry. However more money is not necessarily the answer. At home and abroad value added and niche markets represent big bucks for those who seize the opportunities. This is precisely what our industry is trying to do.

The GATT has created new possibilities for the Canadian farming community. I want to respond to my hon. friend's comments about the GATT. Our Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food stood in the GATT negotiations to fight for the dairy industry. I have dairy farmers in my riding who I know were pleased with the outcome. I also know that tariffication levels almost as high as 300 per cent will protect dairy farmers in Quebec and those in my riding of Provencher.

It is obvious the government has accomplished a lot since it took office last fall. When we consider all the players involved in the safety net design, the complexity and the diversity of our agricultural industry, we realize the government is living up to its commitments.

We brought everyone to the table. Our process of developing a new safety net package is on a tight schedule. We want to implement it by 1995. It will be a key item on the agenda for the next federal-provincial meeting of agriculture ministers. Our minister is planning to present it to the House soon after that.

Sarajevo April 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of all members of Parliament a letter and a painting I received from a constituent of mine, a 7-year old girl whose name is Milaine Curé.

The painting depicts a house getting blown up by a tank and shot at by people with guns.

The letter reads: "Dear Mr. Iftody, how can I help the children of Sarajevo? The children are very sick and they do not have any medication".

We often forget how news can have a profound effect on our children. I felt the fear of this child by the madness and suffering that have resulted from this war. Yet, I also felt the promise of hope from our own children.

Canadians care and we will not abandon our duty as citizens of the world.

Federalism April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize that 12 years ago yesterday, April 17, 1982, on the front lawns of the Parliament Buildings the Canadian Constitution was repatriated.

A few days ago, last Friday, the Prime Minister at a ceremony at Rideau Hall signed an amendment to that same Constitution with Prince Edward Island.

Yes, federalism is alive and well in Canada and last Friday is just another example of that.

The beauty of the Constitution and that of federalism is that they contain the principles of pluralism, diversity and tolerance in today's society.

I congratulate Canadians today. Federalism and the Constitution represent the very fabric and the will of this great nation and its people.