House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Dairy Terms Act March 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague on the other side of the House for bringing forward Bill C-340.

At the beginning of his speech, the member asked members on all sides of the House to support his bill. I will support the bill but my first support goes to the industry and the producers. Dairy producers in Canada give us the finest and the best product possible in the world, and it costs the government nothing. Supply management is the backbone of rural and small town Canada.

I had the opportunity to meet with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, dairy farmers in Ontario and people in my own riding of Hastings--Frontenac--Lennox and Addington. In the next couple of weeks the national Holstein convention for Canada will be held in Kingston.

I know the bill's intent is good and I personally will recommend that we adopt the bill and send it to committee. However I think some changes need to be made in terms of the language. I want the people at Agriculture Canada to look at the bill. We need to learn from this and move with it. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has done a lot of studies. It has talked with people and partners in the industry. It is looking at applying this to all types of food, and that is fine.

My colleague has done a good job with the bill. He has met with the past president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada who I believe is from the Prince Albert area of his riding.

I would like to know if l my colleague will work with us because I would like to work with the industry. I would like to see the legislation go to the all party Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food so it can be fine-tuned. We need to support our producers and we have seen that with the meat industry and BSE where the industries are still thriving but our producers deserve our attention.

Will my colleague work with us and the industry to see if we can improve on the legislation?

Contraventions Act February 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I vote no.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy February 4th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I want to thank members on both sides of the House for asking and arranging for this debate. It is a serious situation. It is not just beef, it is livestock. Most of us realize that. It is not just the producers, but it is also communities plus families.

I have taken on the packers before and probably will again, but my question to the minister is this. He will meet with the banks and the finance companies for farm credit. I also suggest and ask him to meet with all the partners in the industry, such as the packers, the international companies, the fertilizer companies, the fuel companies, and the rail companies. I think all these people need--

Government of Ontario November 3rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, October 23 was a momentous day for the residents of Eastern Ontario. When our new premier, Dalton McGuinty, was sworn in with his cabinet, it became clear that eastern Ontario will have a strong voice in our province's new Liberal government.

I was delighted to note that my own provincial colleague from Hastings--Frontenac--Lennox and Addington, Ms. Leona Dombrowsky, was named Minister of the Environment. A long time community activist and certainly no stranger to environmental issues, Leona has the skills, the drive and the compassion to excel in her new post.

Kingston and the Islands MPP John Gerretsen was also named to cabinet as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for Seniors' Issues. John's extensive experience in municipal and provincial government and his strong record as an advocate for seniors' rights make him a natural choice for both portfolios.

On behalf of the member for Kingston and the Islands, I would like to offer Leona and John our warmest congratulations. We look forward to working with them to advance the interests of our constituents. We know they will serve them well on the government benches at Queen's Park.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for correcting me.

I was in western Canada this year in the great cattle country around Merritt, which I admire greatly, and I just want to ask the member about his remark about the APF. He said it was flawed. If I am not mistaken, British Columbia signed this policy in June or earlier.

I would like to see the provinces sign it and get on with it. I am sure we can make adjustments. In fact, there is going to be a review every year.

I would expect the hon. member to respect the people with the knowledge in his own province. I do not think it was flawed or else we would not have seen B.C. sign it as soon as anyone.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the previous speaker did pull back a few comments.

I was not able to meet you under the big top as I read in your column when I was in Merritt--

Supply September 23rd, 2003

I was there.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, who is a fine young person and a very bright young man. I also compliment the person who brought forward the motion today with good intent. I will give him credit for that.

Our agriculture committee has a reputation for getting along with all parties more than any other committee on the Hill. I have said that in all 10 provinces and I hope I can continue to say that.

I do not think this is the right timing. Last week we had beef people from across the country and a cattle liner assembled on the Hill. I went to the meeting later with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food along with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. The minister laid the cards on the table and we made great advances, according to the top officials of the United States department of agriculture.

I think we are getting there. Our steps are quickening. I just do not think it is the time for us to go to Washington. We have been there before at a committee and I think we should do it regularly, as my colleague said.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, our strategy is to continue to work on this. As I have said, the minister, the Prime Minister and several ministers have met and have talked to every level of government in the United States. We have taken the good science that is recognized around the world as well as that of Dr. Brian Evans who is one of the top veterinarians of the world.

However there are politics in North America and our neighbours have elections.

We have pages and pages of records and documentation of when members of our front bench have talked to the United States, or Japan or when they have worked with Mexico. They have been back and forth continually.

We have the science and that is why the border is open now, and it has been opened quicker than for any other country that had BSE. I wish we had it open fully. I am sure we will.

I want to mention one thing at this opportunity. The Calgary paper is not always friendly to the Liberals, but today it stated:

Alberta's agriculture minister said Ottawa's argument that available aid money has not yet been accessed is fair. I cannot argue that” McLellan said. They've got money available.

Let us work through this and let us get that border open as soon as we can.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to talk about a very serious crisis that is ongoing. I have met with many people from Prince Edward County, Hastings County, Lennox and Addington and Frontenac. They are all suffering, yet I want to take this opportunity to talk about some of the things we have done and what we are doing.

The government fully understands the financial hardships that Canadian cattle producers and the Canadian cattle industry have endured and continue to endure ever since we had the bad news on May 20 that a single cow had been discovered with BSE. When we export $4 billion worth of cattle and beef a year and our major customer closes its border, the impact is going to be severe. It has been severe on the farms, in the feedlots and throughout the beef industry.

The Government of Canada continues to work with people in the industry to help see them through this difficult time. We have done so since day one and we will continue to do so until we have the full resumption of the integrated North American cattle industry that we had on and before May 19.

While the immediate priority has been to focus energies on reopening the border, at the same time the government has been working to assist the industry financially until such time as full trade in beef and cattle resumes with all of Canada's trading partners. Of course other animals are involved such as the goat industry, the sheep industry, and as we have heard, cattle of all kinds, from the dairy to the heifers and the springers.

As my hon. colleagues will recall, immediately after the news was announced, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency launched a comprehensive trace back and trace forward investigation. This investigation involved the necessary culling of some 2,700 animals. The CFIA has now compensated producers for all animals ordered destroyed during the active investigation. Cheques have been sent out, with amounts based on the market value of each animal.

When it became apparent that the U.S. border reopening was not imminent, on June 18 my hon. colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, along with his provincial and territorial colleagues, announced cost shared assistance totalling $460 million. The national BSE recovery program comprised a maximum investment of $276 million from the federal government and a maximum of $184 million from provincial and territorial governments.

This assistance was designed to compensate producers when the price of cattle fell below a reference price based upon the market value in the U.S. The producers of other ruminants were also eligible for payments.

Under this program, processors are also offered incentives to sell or otherwise move out of inventories surplus meat cuts that were produced after May 20. The aim was to free up storage space, allowing processors to operate in an increased capacity to serve the domestic market.

On August 17 my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture, announced an addition to the recovery program involving an investment of $36 million.

The national BSE recovery program, which represented a total federal investment of $312 million, fully did the job it was intended to do. Slaughter levels were restored to comparable levels before May 19. The domestic market was kept moving and feedlots and processors received some relief from severely depressed prices. With the help, support and fairness of those processors, we certainly could have done much better. In my opinion, they did not try hard enough.

We are now in the fall season. Calves are coming off pasture and producers' need for cash to mitigate the effects of the border closure is still urgent. To this end, in his August 17 announcement, the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food also advanced disaster assistance to producers under bilateral agreements, with provinces already committing funding for all five elements under the agricultural policy framework. Some provinces signed these bilateral agreements yesterday and producers will be able to apply for assistance within two weeks.

These advances constitute a transition measure until new business risk management programming is fully implemented across Canada. Transition funding will be equal to a portion of a producer's expected payments for this year, when the new Canadian agricultural income stabilization program comes into force.

Just this past Friday, my hon. colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced further assistance for producers through the second installment of $600 million in transition funding. This investment is part of the $1.2 million investment that the Government of Canada announced in June 2002.

This will help producers with immediate needs related to BSE as well as other pressures encountered this year. Cheques will be delivered directly to producers across the country this fall. Payments will be based on a producer's average eligible net sales for the past five years. Payments will not be counted as revenue under the Canadian agricultural income stabilization program.

This direct payment approach is preferred by most producer groups, and it fulfills the Government of Canada's commitment to continue to help the industry with its immediate needs while in transition to the new programming under the agricultural policy framework. I know my colleague the hon. Minister of Agriculture is eager to get the available resources out to farmers as soon as possible.

Under the business risk management element of the agricultural policy framework, there is a total of $1.1 billion a year in federal dollars available to producers in provinces that have signed the framework implementation agreement. Collectively under the cost sharing agreement, the provinces and the territories will contribute another $700 million. This brings the total investment to $1.8 billion a year. That amounts to a total federal, provincial and territorial investment of some $9 billion over the five years of the framework.

We need to flow these APF funds as soon as possible. What is needed right now is the money, but we continue to work with the industry to assess its needs. The Government of Canada remains committed to doing everything possible to help our cattle producers and our industry manage through this difficult time. We have been working co-operatively with the Canadian beef industry and we will not let up one iota until we have full restoration of the integrated North American market.

I want to thank my neighbour and our friend the agriculture minister and his department because all we have to do is check the records. It is sad to say we are a BSE country. No country has ever gone from BSE to shipping products across the border as quickly as Canada has done and that is because of the good science and the cooperation of our neighbours, the United States.

The United States wants the border open except for a few people who have protectionism along the border. My neighbour, our friend the Minister of Agriculture has worked untiringly, continually on this all summer. He has done such a good job that now U.S. secretary of agriculture Ann Veneman is working to fast track this. Let us hope that comes along well and we can have the border open so we can resume some normal sense of shipping back and forth.