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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Selkirk—Interlake (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Contraventions Act March 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I noticed in the fairly fine speech by the member from the Bloc that he detracted from his argument in regard to enforcement, the strength of that enforcement and whether we should continue to fight the use of drugs.

He also talked about former President Reagan trying to fight drugs and President Bush continuing the fight on drugs in the United States through a hard enforcement action. However he failed to mention people like Bill Clinton who did not do anything either. The fight on drugs was ongoing while Bill Clinton was the president.

Does the member believe that it is just individual political people who are causing the problem or is it the United States as a whole? I think he should clarify that.

The second point concerns what has happened in Vancouver. I do not know whether Montreal is going the same way but in Vancouver the municipality and possibly the province decided that we needed to have safe injection sites so people could use whatever drugs they wanted, in particular heroin but also marijuana, free from police activity.

It sounded like a good idea but the United Nations and the World Health Organization, or the committees that work on drugs, said that Canada was not only contravening international standards and regulations in regard to setting up drug use centres but that it was a bad idea. The World Health Organization and the United Nations have said that drugs are bad and that their use needs to be fought. Why would the member argue that drugs should be more readily available and allow everybody to use them if they want?

Contraventions Act March 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the member has said that 30 grams amounts to about 60 cigarettes. What I see happening, with this half measure being put forward by the Liberal government and by moving toward legalizing, is that people will use more marijuana.

What about the person who has 60 plus one marijuana cigarettes? Will the argument be made that why would the government penalize and put this guy in jail for having one more cigarette, when his buddy standing next to him has only 59 cigarettes? One goes to jail for 10 years and the other one does not.

The bill is so foolish, as it relates to the drug laws in the country. It is incredible that it will be supported by the backbench Liberals and passed. What does the member have to say about that argument?

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, let us assess how the American reacted to our case of BSE. The first country in the world ever was the United States, including President Bush, that recognized Canada was a country in trouble and that the producers were being financially hurt. It was the first country in the world to open its borders to boneless beef.

The Americans did it, and that is the kind of friends I want to have in this world.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the agriculture critic for the Conservative Party of Canada put forward this supply motion today to talk about agriculture and in particular to talk about BSE. The devastation that cattle farmers find themselves in at this point is really tragic and it is a situation that should be determined a full disaster and dealt with as such.

I would like to talk for just a minute about the income situation on our farms and ranches across the country. This applies to non-beef farmers as well. The realized net income on farms has hit a negative dollar figure. This is the first time since 1920 when statistics were first kept that Canadian agriculture as a whole has been in such a serious negative financial situation.

This is not a day to go hammering on the government too badly. Liberals have been in charge of this agricultural policy and the regulations since 1993, and we find that not totally through the government's fault we have gone from crisis to crisis to crisis in agriculture. The government in power, just like a company president or CEO, has to have responsibility and this government is holding the bag for what has gone wrong. It is certainly quick to take on what has gone right, but in this case things have gone wrong.

In 2003, BSE did not occur until approximately May 20. Before that, many cattle had been sold so those incomes were there. Between May and December, prices were deep in the tank and some farm programs were brought in.

When I say farm programs, we have to be careful with our definitions. There are the packing plants, the feedlots and the farmers, or what most people would call the producers. All three of those entities produce meat or beef for the table.

When the government puts out the fact that it has spent so many millions of dollars on the beef producer, what it is really talking about is putting money into the packing plants and into the feedlots. While that is helpful, I would like to point out that the majority of cow-calf producers, which is the basic farm that provides the raw material for the rest of the people up the chain, has not received a cent to this point. That has been a major problem for the cow-calf operator: not having this cashflow.

As for the cull cow program, or cull animal program, which is what it is supposed to be, brought out by the federal government, what it tried to do was say that herds had to be culled, which is true. It is a natural process; so many are done every year. Somehow a dairy herd would be culled at 16% and a beef herd would be culled at 8%.

This is a fairness issue. The dairy farmer fortunately still has the income from the sale of milk from those animals whereas the beef farmer does not have any of that additional income.

As a result, this application of a percentage of the cull should have been at least equal, whether it was 16%--and maybe it would have been the ideal if that would have been given to the beef producer also--or the government could have split the difference and said that everyone gets 10%. That would have actually made the beef producer, someone who is strictly beef and not dairy production, feel a lot better. That kind of unfairness leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many people who are in just the beef operations.

Another part of the cull program which is wrong is that bulls and animals under 30 months of age should have been included if they were breeding stock. I know one case where there are about 75 bred heifers. Of that 75, by the time they calve out this spring, 15 or 20 of them that will not have a calf and will have to be sold. However, they will already be 30 months of age by the time that happens, but they are not counted as part of the cull program. Therefore, there are some deficiencies in the program.

We have yet to see how the CAIS program will play out. It is supposed to pick up some of the slack. There is some expectation that there will be a substantial amount of money coming from that. However, remember what I said. In 2003 many farms will not have a real claim under CAIS. When BSE hit, they made their sales before or in December when the prices were good, before the Americans had their case. As a result, we will not see a lot of CAIS money move in 2003.

However, in 2004 we will see a drain on that CAIS program like we have never seen. We will be drawing ahead. Who knows, it could be one, two or three years ahead that we will be sucking money back out of that budget to pay the claims that will come up in 2004. I say that because feeder calves that were selling in December 2003 for anywhere from $1.06 to $1.15 for a 700 pounder are now down around 50¢ to 60¢. That kind of drop means that it will be reflected in the income figure for farms and they will have a large drop down into the disaster component of the CAIS program.

We might as well talk about the CAIS program in general because it will be around for a few years. If farmers have $400,000 reference margins, they will have to put $90,000 into a bank account. That is an awful lot of their cash flow tied up in a bank account that they cannot access because the government says that it has to be on deposit in order to participate in the program. Any business will tell us that they cannot afford to have that much money tied up in a non-productive bank account, but that is what the government is forcing them to do, and it is really unfortunate.

I was speaking with young farmers who were on the Hill today. I know of many cases in my own area, but one young farmer said that he had a structural change in his farm. He is obviously only in his thirties, but has been in business about seven or eight years. Now he has expanded it. His reference margin is very low. I told him that I thought there were structural change forms that he could submit. He said that he tried to put them in, but he could not because they were not available.

Why the government would bring out a program and not have the details worked out and agreed to with the provinces before it is actually releases and announces it just does not seem to make a lot of sense.

Getting the U.S. border open is of course our main issue. Earlier on today we heard members from the NDP say how they wanted to play hardball with the U.S. I gave a dissertation at that time as to why that would not make a lot of sense and why it would not help the issue by slamming a border shutdown.

However, the member for Malpeque also has this idea that somehow we can kick the stuffing out of the American elephant. We are pretty small to be doing that. I am surprised he said that because Prince Edward Island is a great beef producing place. The people of Prince Edward Island are great beef eaters. They also live by trade, whether it is on the beef side within the Atlantic region or in the American northwest.

The member said that we had science on our side, yes, but that he firmly believed that we had to play hardball on this issue with the U.S. and that we had to restrict American imports here the same as they were restricting our exports into the U.S. He said that he knew that was not based on science.

What the government and the agriculture minister's position has been all along is that based on science, the borders of other countries should be open to Canadian exports. As soon as we in Canada, the agriculture minister in particular and the Prime Minister, make decisions that are not based on science, then we are shown up for what we are on the world scene. We are a country that is saying one thing and doing another. That is what is wrong with threatening the Americans, saying that we are going to close our border to them.

I have an example of how this is negatively impacting our producers. The Subway food chain has what it calls a steak sandwich. I have not actually had one, but Subway is a great company. It uses 100% Canadian beef. That is great for our farmers and the company. It takes the beef, ships it down to a central processing place in the United States where it is cut to the exact size. This is a value added technical thing about the food sold out of their Subway franchises. That same Canadian beef is processed to Subway's specifications, then brought back up to Canada. Science says that there is nothing wrong with that steak which is going back to Canada for those sandwiches.

However, what does our CFIA do on the advice and instructions of the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister, and people like the member for Malpeque? They shut the border and do not let any of that steak come in. What happens at the Subways? People who go to a Subway franchise are unable to order and buy Canadian beef because our government made decisions, not based on science, but based on politics. That is exactly what is wrong. Canada should be showing leadership.

In regard to the world situation, up until we had our first case of BSE, Canada was the most hard-nosed country in the world on other countries that had one case of BSE. I use Denmark as an example. We even slapped a ban on Brazil that did not have an official case of BSE. Again, our Liberal government is saying one thing and doing another. It is basing decisions, not on science but on politics. We as beef producers are trying to get away from that and the Canadian cattlemen would like to see us get away from that.

Therefore, we have this terrible situation where our government of the day has such little rapport in the United States, Japan or Korea to get those borders opened up. It is partly because relationships cannot be built at the last minute.

You know yourself, Mr. Speaker, where you live you are known as a great friendly fellow around the area, but there is always a neighbour that tends to be the one that irritates the other neighbours and does not really get along. Then all of a sudden his garage gets blown down in the wind and he cannot fix it himself. He needs a hand. When he goes around to his neighbours, who he has kind of ticked off over the years, they say that they are busy and cannot help him fix the garage. That is exactly what the they Americans have been telling us, in essence. They have said that Canada wants to be so hard-nosed, that it wants to abuse their President and be anti-American in a lot of ways. That has been a negative influence in getting the borders open.

Another example is that for years, particularly in western Canada where this is more of an issue, but I have also heard it in Ontario, we have been trying to get year round access for feeder calves from the United States so we in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta could buy American feeder cattle and bring them up to Canada year round. We could fatten them. They would never leave the feedlot. They would go from the feedlot to the packing plant or maybe even be shipped back to the United States to be slaughtered.

Science has said that there is nothing the matter with these cattle coming up from the States. The anaplasmosis and blue tongue, which are the two diseases that are of concern from some parts of the United States, are very easily handled. If an animal happens to have that in a feedlot, it can be treated with antibiotics. It is a non-issue.

What we have here is another case of a government not using science to make decisions. What the government wants to do is keep those feeder cattle out so we can feed our own, et cetera.

The government has to realize that we are in a continental market of livestock and farm products. We are also in a global market. A global market is making Canada richer. A global market pays for health care, education and many other things that we as Canadians enjoy.

I hope the other parties in the House follow the lead of the Conservative Party and myself in becoming better world citizens.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, earlier the member from Qu'Appelle, which is in Saskatchewan, was speaking about his opposition to the Firearms Act and registering rifles and shotguns. We need to have a little clarification. Perhaps the member could correct me, but Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP, has quite clearly stated that he is going to ensure that all rifles and shotguns are registered, and that is the official NDP policy.

I would like the member to comment on whether or not an individual member can change things in the House, or whether he has to have the backing of others, at least in his party, to make that change. Could he contrast the NDP position on the Firearms Act to the Conservative Party's position?

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I recall that when those provinces signed on they were told quite clearly by the former agriculture minister that if they did not sign on they would not get any support money for the BSE issue. Farmers were so hurt that the provinces said they had to take what little miserly bit they could get from the federal government.

The member talks about the CAIS program and how happy he is that it has been set up and says that we can it take to the bank. I took mine to the bank the other day, because when we have a $100,000 reference margin, we have to go to the bank and borrow $24,000 so we can make our farmer's deposit in order to qualify for the program. The federal government does not deposit any money into any bank accounts. Why is the government being so hard on the farmer that the farmer has to put his money up front instead of just having a letter of credit from the bank stating that if he makes a claim on the program, the farmer's portion will be there?

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions for the member for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey. Why did his government in 1995 negotiate and sign the agreement that has put supply management on the current round of negotiating table for trade talks in regard to agriculture, wherein the market access to Canada will have to increase and our tariffs will have to come down? Why did he and his government negotiate and sign that in 1995?

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, those were good comments. The federal government has moved things along on the BSE issue in regard to regulations and working toward getting the borders open, but I know that at this point in the debate I should say that a major part of the credit for the advancement we have made should go to Neil Jahnke, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, his wife Marilyn Jahnke, the president of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers, and Betty Green, president of the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, who have been so instrumental in helping to guide the government and tell it what it needs to do in order to get this issue resolved. I would ask the member to reference his cattle representative if possible.

Does the member believe that it is fair on the part of the government to have given some farmers a much higher percentage cull rate of 16% for their herds but other farmers only 8%? Should it not have been 10% across the board so that all farmers would be treated equally and fairly?

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, regarding the supply management issue, from 1993 through to 1995 the Liberal government sold out article 11 at the World Trade Organization talks. It now requires that the very three pillars that support supply management must be negotiated and the tariff protection that was there before it signed the agreement must be reduced in this current round of trade talks.

Who sold out supply management? The former solicitor general from Prince Edward Island sold out supply management.

Supply February 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the federal Liberal government is responsible for part of the problem we have on this BSE issue because it agreed to the seven year ban agreement that the international countries agreed to when a country has a single case of BSE. We should have had more foresight on that.

My question is in regard to the cull cow program. Farmers have received absolutely zero and we have to be careful when we are talking about producers. We have feedlot people, packing people and cow-calf people, the actual primary producers. The primary producer or the cow-calf rancher or farmer has not received a penny. The money that is talked about has not gone to those people and there are tens of thousands of them. Could the member comment on that? I guess there is money coming.

With respect to the cull cow program, bulls and animals under 30 months of age are left out of that program. I can go into technical details in regard to those animals if anyone wishes, but it is a problem when we are only being compensated for a portion of our culls in our herds.

The other problem we have is that the government saw fit to treat farmers differently. It said dairy farmers, and more power to them, would be paid for 16% of their herds, whereas beef farmers would only be paid for 8% of their herds. Why was the government so unfair to the beef farmers?