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

World Trade Organization November 5th, 2001

Mr. Chairman, I certainly want to applaud every part of the question because it is so very important for our farmers. Perhaps my colleague for Malpeque could have opened it up with the title of challenges and opportunities.

Our farmers have had an unfair amount of challenges, yet I believe there are great opportunities in the future any time we work to eliminate distorted foreign subsidies that exist across the border and the waters.

My colleague was president of the National Farmers Union for about 14 year. He has given his life for farmers of this country. He agrees with me that our farmers would like to concentrate on farming and being producers of fine food. Our farmers do not want to farm the mailbox like some of our neighbours.

We have an opportunity. We built up a list of countries, especially developing countries, and I hope the good work of the government will make a difference.

We came along in 1993. I know the previous government meant well, but when it came down to the final moment of decision there were no other countries with us. Canada stood alone and we cannot stand alone. We have to build allies and we are doing that.

World Trade Organization November 5th, 2001

Mr. Chairman, I have not had the opportunity to work with my hon. colleague as much in the last couple of years. We certainly toured Canada a few years ago on the HRDC committee where we had hearings in 26 cities in 35 days in the 10 provinces, 2 territories and the eastern Arctic as it was known at the time.

I appreciate the question because any time I get the opportunity to talk about our government's commitment to supply management, I welcome it. I noted that the Prime Minister spoke in favour of our commitment to supply management. The Minister for International Trade spoke today to the fact that agriculture is number one on the list of where we have to work on the negotiations.

However, to my colleague, supply management is a domestic marketing situation. I live within an hour's drive of the United States. Once or twice a year I travel across the border. Whether I buy or just look at the prices, each time for the last eights I have come back knowing that butter, as an example, costs the consumer less in Canada than it does in the States.

Supply management is working for our producers. I can say that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has spoken out 100% in favour of protecting our supply management sector. I know we can count on my colleagues in this party, but I am not sure about some of my other colleagues. I would like to hear some of the other parties' commitments.

It is very important that we continue to work for the great agriculture producers of Quebec and across Canada, especially in the supply management sector.

World Trade Organization November 5th, 2001

Mr. Chairman, we certainly do have free trade agreements with many countries. I realize that Palestine is very important. I know my colleague has worked a lot with governments in the Middle East, bringing together these trading partners.

As I mentioned, 80% of everything we produce is sent off the shores of this great country, and we do appreciate all of our partners.

World Trade Organization November 5th, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this take note debate and for the opportunity to talk about Canada's participation at the upcoming fourth World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar and, in particular, the agricultural trade objectives Canada will be setting out to achieve.

Trade has been and continues to be vitally important to the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry. In fact trade accounts for one half of all farm sales. The Canadian agriculture and agrifood sector operates in a global context and depends heavily on exports for its growth and development. Last year alone Canada exported close to $23.5 billion in agriculture and agrifood products.

Since the implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the WTO Uruguay round and bilateral free trade agreements with Chile, Costa Rica and Israel, Canadian agriculture and agrifood exports have been expanding considerably over the past 10 years.

As the global economy becomes even more integrated, the importance of a multilaterally agreed and enforceable framework governing Canada's international trade of agricultural products becomes increasingly more apparent. As a mid-sized country with significant agricultural export interests, Canada has much to gain from further trade reform being undertaken through the WTO within a rules based system with binding dispute resolution.

In recognition of this fact the government, in consultation with Canadian agriculture and agrifood stakeholders, has been working diligently over the past two years to pursue its objectives. Since March 2000, when the current WTO round of agriculture negotiations began in Geneva, Canada has been pursuing the interests of the Canadian agriculture and agrifood industry as expressed in its initial negotiating position announced by the government back in August 1999.

That position sets out Canada's objectives to eliminate export subsidies, to reduce as much as possible or eliminate trade distorting domestic support and improve market access for all agriculture and food products. Essentially, our goal is to level the playing field to allow Canadian farmers and processors to compete successfully on an equal footing with their competitors as they have consistently proven they are more than capable of doing.

Furthermore the federal government will also ensure that decisions about the production and marketing of Canadian products will continue to be made in Canada. Excessive support levels distort production, they drive down world prices that are already low and as a result hurt farmers, farmers in Canada and in a majority of the other agricultural producing countries, in particular developing countries, that export agricultural products.

To advance the goal of levelling the international playing field, Canada has and will continue to reach out to developing country members in the WTO who share this view.

Canada has had great successes in advancing the common goal through participation in the Cairns group which is made up largely of agriculture exporting developing countries. We will continue to build upon our common interests with other members to achieve a fair and market oriented agricultural trading system.

Although global agricultural trade has been more market oriented over the past 10 years, especially since the conclusion of the WTO Uruguay round negotiations, there continues to be an urgent need for further trade liberalization. We need to continue to make markets work better by dismantling barriers to trade and significantly reducing trade distorting subsidies.

While Canadian farmers can compete head to head with anyone in the world as long as it is on an equal footing, they cannot compete with the treasuries of some of the foreign countries. There is clearly work that remains to be done.

While we are pleased with the progress being made in the current agriculture negotiations, we feel strongly that this progress cannot be lost. We view the increased focus and momentum that the launch of a broader set of multilateral trade negotiations would bring to the agriculture negotiators as being extremely beneficial to the interests of Canada.

Canada believes that the launch of expanded negotiations in Doha would significantly increase the odds of achieving a substantial and far reaching outcome in the agriculture negotiations, an outcome that would take us a long way toward further opening agriculture markets and eliminating distortions in the world trade of agricultural exports. A successful launch of a broader round of negotiations at the fourth WTO ministerial conference would indicate that other WTO members are also serious about agricultural trade reform.

In this context, the launch of a broader set of WTO negotiations in Doha is a clear objective from agricultural and wider perspectives. Agricultural trade reform is a key priority for all Canadians. We consider it extremely important that WTO members make real and meaningful progress toward achieving a fair and market oriented agricultural trading sector. We clearly want to see substantive results in the areas of market access, domestic support and export competition.

As a result, Canada does not view the launch of a broader round as entirely sufficient for meeting our agriculture policy objectives. That is why Canada is also seeking a strong and clear statement at Doha on the need to make real and far-reaching progress in liberalizing agricultural trade.

Further, Canada will also be pursuing the establishment, on the part of the WTO ministers, of clear and realistic timelines and a framework for conducting the agriculture negotiations and bringing them to a conclusion as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Canada is committed to seeking a successful conclusion to the WTO agriculture negotiations to continue the liberalization of global agricultural trade, which in turn would provide Canadian producers and processors with a more level international playing field and would extend a rules based, predictable and secure trading environment.

Seeking a successful conclusion will mean that Canada's participation in negotiations will continue to benefit from the valuable input of all Canadians. The federal government remains fully committed to keeping agriculture and agrifood stakeholders fully informed. We will continue to consult closely with Canadians as the WTO agriculture negotiations progress.

World Trade Organization November 5th, 2001

Mr. Chairman, my colleague is an excellent, hardworking member who makes a great contribution to our Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

I am sure we would all agree that we should look for all resources possible to provide any help we can to our producers. Food is a commodity that many of us are interested in.

Does my colleague believe that these funds should just continue to go out with ad hoc payments or would he have some points to share with us as to how we might direct these funds to the great farmers and producers across the country?

Agriculture November 5th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, Canadian farmers deserve the best. Global agricultural trade reform is a priority for Canada as it is for many of our trading partners.

As a leading trading nation, Canada has a vital interest in further strengthening the international rules that govern agricultural trade. We want to achieve fundamental reforms in the area of market access, domestic support, export compliance and export competition.

That is why, for this fourth WTO ministerial meeting in Doha, Canada is calling on the WTO members to agree to the launch of a broader round of trade negotiations. This would enable the achievement of a more ambitious and far reaching--

Small Business Week October 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, during Small Business Week we celebrate entrepreneurship. In my riding small business forms the economic foundation of the many communities scattered across the three counties of Hastings, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington from the shores of Lake Ontario in the south to Algonquin Park in the north.

Before serving the citizens of my riding as their member of parliament my wife Reta and I operated a country store in the village of Camden East. I know something about the dreams, the skills, the perseverance, and the hard work small businessmen and women invest in their communities.

In the vast majority of instances business people not only run their operations. They are volunteers on local boards, from library boards to environmental committees. They often serve municipally, from elected municipal officials to volunteer firepersons.

Today as Small Business Week concludes it is an honour to salute the entrepreneurs who make up this important sector, both for their contributions to the national economy and to the social fabric of our communities. I ask members to join me in applauding Canada's entrepreneurs.

National Co-Op Week October 18th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak in the House on behalf of National Co-Op Week. Since the mid-1800s the co-operative movement has grown to 10,000 co-operatives across Canada. The foundation of this successful movement has been people, people working hand in hand toward a common objective.

As the world celebrates the International Year of the Volunteer I find it a fitting occasion to recognize the 70,000 co-op volunteers who sit on boards and committees across Canada. These people volunteer their time, skills and energy to guide co-operatives in providing vital services to their communities.

The federal government recognizes the role co-operatives play in developing and serving their communities. I will cite two examples. First, through the Canadian adaptation and rural development fund we have researched how agriculture co-operatives can better serve the needs of members. Second, HRDC is testing a revolving loan fund for developing worker owned co-op businesses.

Across Canada we have worker, consumer and producer co-operatives. We have co-operatives for financial services, child care, housing, farm equipment and groceries.

World Food Day October 16th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, today is World Food Day, the day we commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the FAO, in Quebec City on October 16, 1945.

This year's theme, “Fight hunger to reduce poverty”, underscores the need to refocus attention on hunger as the first step to reducing poverty.

As Canadians we benefit from the success of an agriculture and food sector that provides us with safe and nutritious food. As a member of the FAO, Canada is a strong supporter of efforts to reduce hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and encourage the integration of developing countries into the world economy.

Still, according to the FAO, there are over 800 million people in the world facing hunger. World Food Day is an opportunity to remind us that we cannot be complacent in the fight against hunger.

Agriculture September 27th, 2001

Madam Chairman, it is great to see members from all areas of Canada take part in this most important debate. The latest speaker spoke with passion.

I will clarify what our programs at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada do and what they are invested in across the country. The AIDA program that my colleagues have mentioned had room for improvement so we improved it with a new program. Under the AIDA program more than $1.6 billion was paid out. By far most of it went to the province of Saskatchewan which certainly deserved it.

There is no denying the severity of the drought that affected many parts of Canada this summer. Yet parts of Manitoba and B.C., in an odd twist of irony, had too much rain. That is the business of farming. Whether drought, disease or too much rain, there will invariably be circumstances where farmers are unexpectedly faced with income declines beyond their control.

There is no question that farming is a risky business. That is why the government along with the provinces put in place the safety net programs the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food outlined for us today.

In the three years leading up to the year 2002, crop insurance programs such as the net income stabilization account and the Canada farm income program will provide $5.5 billion in federal and provincial funding to agriculture safety net programs and producers. These programs alone will pay out $5.5 billion.

Ensuring our producers remain viable is not just an important component of any program or agricultural policy. It should be the foundation, and it is. However we would be remiss if safety nets alone were the extent of our agricultural policy. To better meet the challenges facing our agricultural sector the government is developing a strategy to move the sector beyond crisis management, as was said in the Speech from the Throne.

The agricultural policy framework of which the hon. minister spoke is an action plan for a comprehensive national agricultural policy. It would take in the whole scope of agriculture and make Canada the world leader in food safety, innovation and environmentally responsible agriculture production. The new policy framework would not diminish the need for effective safety net programs but build on the programs over the long term.

One of the big factors driving agriculture today is the consumer. Consumers around the globe are more sophisticated, knowledgeable and discerning than ever before. Consumers are concerned about the food they eat and how it is grown. They have concerns about the environment in which it is produced. They are more particular about the kinds of food they eat.

Competitors are building on this concern by using technical issues such as barriers to trade. To be successful under these circumstances we must brand Canada in terms of food safety, quality and the environmentally responsible manner in which our products are grown and produced.

The agricultural policy framework would involve facilitating environmental management at the farm level. Being environmentally responsible in our production would mean sustainable resources and more investment in Canada. From a marketing perspective environmental planning is important because consumers are demanding it.

The plan would build on Canada's reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food by strengthening on farm food safety systems. Our producers have asked for it and are investing in it, and we are working with them. Safety and quality run through the entire food chain but it must start at the root. It must start on the farm.

The government will use science to help the sector create economic opportunities with innovative new products. We will renew the sector through programming for farmers that addresses their unique needs and helps them adapt to change.

We will look at management skills and practices, access to capital and addressing the productivity of the land. Essentially that means we will ensure we are providing the right tools, policies and programs to support farmers. That is why the new policy would include a review of farm safety nets.

This important work on the long term direction of the sector will be undertaken in close consultation with the industry. By investing in our producers and their ability to manage risks such as drought and consumer demand we will help them thrive as leaders in innovation and growth.

Canada is known around the world as a leader in food safety and environmental performance. By being number one in these areas we will use our position to influence international standards. Through the branding of Canadian agricultural products we will capture new and premium markets while maintaining existing ones. This is a long term comprehensive policy that will put our producers front and centre in the global marketplace.

As we have mentioned, the provinces and the federal government are working together on this important front. The debate we are having is part of this. We are glad the debate is happening and I look forward to hearing more comments from my colleagues.

The week after next when the House is not sitting I will attend a meeting in Toronto with the minister. The meeting is in Toronto this time. It was in Quebec earlier in the year, then it was in Whitehorse, and this time it will be in Ontario. Our minister and the ministers from each province will be in attendance to work together and resolve some of these challenges. I ask for and know I will get the support of members of the House.