Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was grain.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Brandon—Souris (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 18% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture And Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act October 26th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the individuals who looked at the bill and came forward with amendments looked very hard at the issues they are attempting to address. I have to say their attempts to remedy or improve the bill is evident.

However I have to take exception that the actual function they are bringing forward will be a benefit to agriculture in general. I would point out that in Motion No. 15 they are asking to legislate what the maximum time frame should be tied to six months within which time the review tribunal must complete its review.

Many times when a tribunal is involved in matters it would be rather imprudent to be fixed to a particular time frame and attempt to guarantee this time frame in legislation where reason dictates that flexibility would be required and needed. Therefore, a six-month time frame would not always be suitable. I think we would have to say that some flexibility in timing would be required.

Another purpose of the motion is to remove from the minister the ability to enter into compliance agreements whereby penalties could be reduced in recognition of costs incurred by industry by taking corrective measures. The important thing in these matters is that compliance is achieved. Whether or not there is a reduced or an increased penalty is secondary in most cases to bringing about the change by the perpetrator of the infraction.

By authorizing the department to enter into these agreements the bill gives the department the tool to negotiate the implementation by industry of measures that would change the violator's practices and process. That is the key. At the same time, the violator may pay a reduced amount of penalty in exchange for compliance. These funds to effect the necessary improvements leading to a future compliance may also be used to remedy certain situations.

Compliance agreements result in immediate corrective actions. Note that we are saying immediate. When that has happened of course, the ministerial or departmental approval would be achieved. Immediate corrective action leads to a better product, improved health and safety, and more effective enforcement. Compliance agreements are optional and no one is forced to enter into these agreements. The bill provides an incentive to enter into compliance agreements by making it possible to reduce the amount of monetary penalty. As we have said, the most important outcome is that there has been a change and there has been a remedy and compliance is achieved.

To remove the possibility of a ministerial review of a notice of violation is also deemed not suitable by this amendment. I would like to speak against that point as well. A ministerial review enables a violator who wishes to challenge a monetary penalty to have a fast, inexpensive and informal way to do so. Under current legislation he must do so through the court system. As we know, that can be slow. We also know it can be very expensive. Consequently, when we hear concerns from opposite sides that we do not have enough savings by these changes, we admit that we perhaps do not have a fixed number, but we know that by taking it out of the court system we will be putting a number of dollars into agriculture rather than into the hands of people in the legal system.

The ministerial review is optional in any event. The violator may choose to proceed directly to the review tribunal. Furthermore, anyone who elects to have a ministerial review may appeal its outcome to the review tribunal.

Finally, I would like to comment on whether or not to remove the possibility for a violator to pay less than the full amount of monetary penalty where the violator does not request a review. In other words, we would be putting in place a mechanism whereby there would be a smaller amount of money taken from the perpetrator of an infraction without his even asking for it.

The intent behind including in the bill a provision that enables this to happen is twofold. First, it is to enable a violator who does not intend to challenge the assessment of a penalty to pay a reduced amount of penalty if the department is satisfied that the violator would act in good faith and take the necessary corrective measures. Again, the compliance component is paramount here. Second, it is to promote compliance without engaging in long and costly hearings.

Hearings are of course expensive, as we said earlier. There are other regimes. It is estimated that the average hearing cost is about

$1,400, and some might be more. If we can save that $1,400, we will all be ahead of the game.

We are informed these types of reductions are common under other monetary penalty regimes both in Canada and the U.S. In these other regimes reductions are informally made on a case by case basis while taking great care to make a decision appropriately. Bill C-61 formalizes the procedure and makes the practice transparent and available to anyone.

I conclude my remarks at this point.

Agriculture And Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act October 26th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for a westerner to be able to speak to this motion. I begin by pointing out that there has been in both recent and historical terms a need to address the problem this bill and this motion seemingly are dealing with.

The minister is charged with the duty to look at any circumstance in which there has been an infraction under the law and take that circumstance and assess whether or not it is "a very serious situation". Perhaps even out of ignorance a person may become involved in a set of circumstances that really potentially is serious if not checked.

The biggest point that needs to be addressed is the bill and the minister are trying to bring about some compliance to the degree that this infraction or this problem can be rectified.

Under the present situation, every contravention must be prosecuted. The reason the bill is being put in place is to have in place some discretionary powers whereby the bill will in fact still bring about compliance while recognizing that there are some circumstances that need not produce criminal records.

To prescribe by regulation, as the motion puts forward, the criterion for determining whether a contravention should be considered as a violation or an offence perhaps is on the surface rather difficult, but once it gets operating sets of criteria will flow and will become apparent.

I will give a couple of examples. Let us suggest that somebody has entered material into the food chain that is very harmful. This would require penalties that perhaps would be approaching the criminal level and should be dealt with very seriously.

At the standing committee my colleague said perhaps a person who is hauling animals will be putting too many animals into a trailer and unknowingly breaking the regulations. Consequently, all we need to do is deal with that individual on a user friendly basis.

I feel the motion on the criteria situation is one that in time will flow and the decision of whether or not to prosecute or put in place the monetary penalties when necessary will bring about the desired effect of compliance. The minister has the duty to make known what those criteria are as the events unfold.

Endangered And Threatened Species Act October 18th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on this bill. Previous speakers today have enunciated the fact that there has been or still is a patchwork of legislation across the country.

There appears to be some consistency lacking. Concerns about a lack of endangered species legislation in greater Canada has been expressed for well over a decade.

It is my view that all Canadians have a moral responsibility to ensure that future generations enjoy and benefit from the presence of diverse wildlife species. The federal, provincial and territorial governments together must provide the required leadership and legislative tools thereto. That strategy will set the stage for action in a number of areas, including the identification and protection of endangered species.

The biodiversity convention calls for the development or maintenance of necessary legislation to protect wildlife and their habitats at risk.

The responsibility for protecting endangered species is shared among the federal, provincial and territorial governments. Options for federal endangered species legislation have been explored with the preferred course of action being a co-operative national approach. The federal government continues to work co-operatively with the provinces and the territories to develop and ensure this national approach. Because there is currently no federal endangered species legislation in Canada and only a patchwork of provincial legislation, we need a strengthened national effort to ensure endangered species conservation.

In November 1994 the Minister of the Environment was presented with a 75,000 signature petition calling for a law to protect endangered species. This petition, the more than 5,000 subsequent letters and the comments made during public consultations clearly indicate that Canadians, children and adults alike, expect federal leadership on this issue.

An Angus Reid poll conducted in May showed that an overwhelming majority of Canadians, 94 per cent, support the idea of federal legislation to protect species at risk. The support for legislation is firm. Seventy-five per cent of Canadians strongly support such legislation and 20 per cent somewhat support it.

Last November the Minister of the Environment released a discussion paper on endangered species legislation in Canada, another one on a proposed national approach to endangered species conservation in April and a series of public workshops were held in May.

In August 1995, with full cabinet approval, the Minister of the Environment released for public comment a legislative proposal to protect endangered species entitled "The Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act: A Legislative Proposal". The legislative proposal was released to ensure that the federal government is doing its part and working co-operatively with other jurisdictions to protect endangered species throughout the country.

The minister encouraged the public to provide comments on the legislative proposal prior to introducing legislation in the House of Commons in the spring. The comments received will help the federal government finalize its plans for protecting endangered species.

The proposed legislation would help prevent wild Canadian species from becoming extinct as a consequence of human activities and mandate the recovery of species where technically and economically feasible. It would apply to species on federal lands and waters or under federal authority.

The proposal arises from discussions with the provinces and territories on a national approach to Canadian endangered species protection. It also responds to the comments, suggestions and briefings made by Canadians at the public consultation workshops held across the country, as well as to the recommendations of a federal endangered species conservation task force. There were also many useful aspects of Bill C-275, which stands in the name of hon. member for Davenport and was introduced in September 1994, which were also considered in drafting the proposed legislation.

The proposal under consideration by the Minister of the Environment is consistent with the commitment enunciated in the red book which puts forward a vision of society that "protects the long term health and diversity of all species on the planet". The proposed legislation would also clearly demonstrate this government's commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The federal endangered species conservation task force, made up of representatives from environmental groups, industry and industry associations, academia and small business was established by the Minister of the Environment to advise her on the contents of the federal endangered species legislation. The task force reconvened early in October to provide additional advice on a number of key issues, including the best way to achieve the desired safety net that will ensure that all endangered species in Canada receive the protection they deserve. The task force is expected to provide its report to the Minister of the Environment by mid-November.

The legislative proposal is intended to form the federal component of a comprehensive national safety net for the country's most vulnerable species.

With the co-operation of federal, provincial and territorial governments, the proposed legislation will succeed in providing a strong national approach for the conservation of endangered species.

The proposed legislation will apply to the full extent of federal authority to federally managed species everywhere and federally managed marine areas. The proposed legislation would establish a national listing process for all species in Canada regardless of where they occur.

Federal government actions will not intrude into provincial and territorial responsibilities. The common but differentiated responsibilities of the federal, provincial and territorial governments with respect to endangered species are recognized. The proposed legislation is intended to complement, not contradict, provincial and territorial actions.

The release of the legislative proposal prior to the tabling of a formal bill demonstrates our commitment to protecting Canada's endangered species and our commitment to open and transparent government. The federal government remains committed to working co-operatively with the provinces and territories to develop an effective national approach to endangered species conservation. By taking action at the federal level and getting our own house in order we are demonstrating our commitment to making the national approach work.

Canada Transportation Act October 2nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I intend to share my 10 minutes with my colleague from Souris-Moose Mountain.

The Reform Party insists on dealing with only the process and not the content of Bill C-101. I would simply like to comment that from our perspective here on the government side, we feel we are complying with the new rule changes that were initiated by the government. We intend to fulfil those changes.

Bill C-101 has had some interesting background. It attempts to reduce the National Transportation Agency to some degree, from a full complement of nine members down to three full time and three part time. We are also hoping to reduce the number of employees within that agency from 500 down to 200. We feel this is a move that will initiate and respect our drive for efficiencies within the system.

I might further comment that the structure of the rail industry in particular and the laws that regulate it hark back to a time when Canada was a self-contained internal market. That time has passed. Canada's growth and the opportunities of our people now depend on the ability of our industries to embrace and meet the needs of global markets. Rail transportation is strategically important for our exporters as the means that will keep us in those markets. A

viable rail industry, one that can attract new capital and one that is sensitive to shippers' needs, is crucial.

For many years the focus of the law has been on the network of the two large railways and ways to prevent these two companies from changing this network. The law was seen as a mechanism to prevent abandonment and also to reduce service. The focus was not on alternative ways to deliver local rail service.

As I read this bill, I am sensing that there are provisions whereby rail abandonment, if it does occur, will be done on a much different basis. There will be respect for the fact that the economics of abandonment must be addressed and that there must have been efforts put in place by the two major lines to actually show that they have attempted to sell such railways in terms of setting up short lines.

The Canada transportation act encourages these main lines to restructure in a way that promotes the establishment of new rail initiatives and alternative short lines. In the future, the law will set in place a process that will allow private sector interests or regional officials to intercede to take over lines they consider important for regional rail transportation.

The framework under the new Canada transportation act sees our rail industry and its future viability as crucial for long term growth. It also encourages new participation at the local and regional level to preserve rail service.

In conclusion, the Canada transportation act is good for Canada because it reflects what a modern Canada needs. It is a framework law that recognizes the global nature of markets and the strategic importance of transportation, particularly rail transportation.

Cultural Property Export And Import Act September 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the previous speaker.

I come from an area where there is an endeavour under way to establish a new resource of heritage. I am wondering whether or not he sees any mechanism through this bill that would enable in a general way a new facility, a new collection of artifacts to be set up to encourage the general community to bring forward its artifacts in a particular manner.

I will give a little background. We are the oil capital of Manitoba. We have a problem of encouragement to the oil industry to bring some of those artifacts back into a setting whereby they will be on display. I would ask if the hon. member sees any mechanism that would be available.

Quebec Referendum September 19th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians, including the residents of my riding, are concerned about the Quebec referendum. In their view, now is the time for all Canadians to speak about the advantages of Canada. Now is the time for calm and competent leadership by all elected people who care about our country.

Everyone seems to understand that except for the Reform Party. I am saddened and disappointed with the irresponsible behaviour of that party. Rather than speaking up for Canada, the Reform Party appears to be interested in contributing to the success of the separatists.

Whose side are the Reformers taking? Do they secretly want a yes vote? If they want a vote for Canada, as all federalists do, I hope they will show the kind of positive leadership that will help the people of Quebec choose Canada.

The residents of Brandon-Souris and I are happy to have the sound and sensible leadership of the Prime Minister to defend the interests of Canada, not the irresponsible exploitations of the Reform Party.

Safe Grad June 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, high school graduation time is again upon us. I take this opportunity along with my colleague from St. Boniface to commend the laudable actions of many students across Canada for their participation in the safe grad program.

This year's students from across the country including Manitoba will again take part in the safe grad program. This combines student graduation celebrations with realistic measures to prevent accidents and other problems which could be associated with drinking and driving.

Safe grad is a student run program with input from parents, teachers and police. Safe grad is geared toward the needs and wishes of individual schools and their students.

I am most impressed with the students of our country and their support of safe grad. Along with the member for St. Boniface, I commend them on their actions. On behalf of the House and my colleagues, I wish all students a safe and happy graduation.

Canadian Wheat Board Act June 8th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

My comment is a little historical and futuristic in perspective. The closer one lives to the U.S. border the greater the desire to access that market by producers. As one moves further north from the border there is less and less thrust by the producers to access the market because of the geographical distance produce has to be hauled and depending on what product they are trying to ship.

I concur that new processes and regulations need to be examined. Realistically there is a market. American industries using Canadian grain still want our product for let us say the protein content in our product and not available in their own.

I agree with my colleague that it needs to be examined. It also needs to be accessed by Canadian producers in the long term.

Canadian Wheat Board Act June 8th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I have no comment to make on any closure at any time on any bill. However, I was most pleasantly surprised by his first question asking my opinion, because he is the recognized economist in the grains business in Alberta. I appreciate the point he is raising.

There has been a strong recognition that Brandon, Manitoba, is one of the highest cost shipping points throughout the grain transportation industry. In order to allow the current farmers to maintain their position as farmers, they are recognizing that some transitions are going to have to be made over a period of time. There will be some shifts, some changes, some partnerships that will have to be struck.

My region probably leads western Canada already in diversification thrusts in terms of crop production. If members look into some of the data they will find Brandon-Souris is a strong agricultural area. I am hopeful it will continue to be so in the future.

Canadian Wheat Board Act June 8th, 1995

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak in support of Bill C-92, which is a bill to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act. The bill will result in a fairer method of allocating freight costs among prairie producers of wheat and barley sold through the Canadian Wheat Board.

The change in freight cost pooling has been requested by the western grains industry and by those farmers who make their living doing what they do best, growing wheat and barley on the Canadian prairies. This change, once approved, will allow the

returns received by farmers from the Canadian Wheat Board to more accurately reflect actual market conditions and costs.

My hon. friends may be asking themselves just what wheat board pooling is, how it works and why it is being changed. At this juncture some background explanation may be instructive.

Currently producers within the Canadian Wheat Board who deliver grains to the board have deducted from their initial payment the freight costs incurred in moving their product to export position. That has traditionally been either Thunder Bay or Vancouver, whichever happens to result in the lower freight rate. For example, under the current pooling system producers in my home area, which is Brandon, who live closer to Thunder Bay, would have an estimated $20.34 a tonne in freight charges deducted from their initial payments as of August 1, 1995. A similar grain producer in the Calgary area would naturally be closer to the port of Vancouver and would have a freight deduction estimated at about $22.19. Grain being shipped to Thunder Bay faces an additional cost of about $20 a tonne to move from Thunder Bay east through the St. Lawrence seaway to final export position.

The additional costs are currently shared equally by all producers through the Canadian Wheat Board's pool accounts. For wheat, around $7 per tonne is paid by all producers out of the pool account to cover the additional expense.

The current pooling system means that income from the western part of the prairies is being transferred to the eastern part of the prairies. Even if the grain producer ships all their wheat to Vancouver, they are paying through the pool accounts to have eastern prairie grain transported from Thunder Bay farther down the St. Lawrence to ports that handle more export business.

Farmers in the western prairies are subsidizing part of those shipping costs for farmers in the eastern prairies. Clearly, the situation calls for change. A need for change has long been recognized by many throughout the industry. As some of the previous commentators on the bill have indicated, many producers have been afraid of embarking on a route that would enable such changes to occur. The driving force behind the change has come from industry and farm groups themselves. Parliament is merely carrying out the strongly conveyed wishes of those who work in and earn their living from the western grains industry. In addition, the four western provincial governments also support the necessary changes.

At this juncture some may be asking themselves why the government is carrying out its comprehensive reform to Canada's grain transportation system. More specifically, why is the grain freight cost pooling system being changed now?

There are at least four reasons why it makes sense to take action to reform the grain transport system. First, the new GATT agreement contains a number of rules against trade distorting export subsidies, including the WGTA, which all parties have recognized has been a distorting mechanism. If we do not make fundamental changes to our grain transport system, Canada could see itself being shut out of vital export markets.

Second, it is in our interest to develop a grain transport system that is more efficient, faster, and less expensive to operate. The savings that will come from such a system must be shared fairly and equally among all the participants, most especially by the farmers.

Third, Canada's prairie economy has been stifled for decades by a freight rate structure that promotes exporting of primary products and actively discourages diversification and value added processing. Until we end that discrimination, the west will be prevented from achieving its full potential.

Finally, this government and the people of Canada can no longer afford the luxury of annual rail subsidies of more than half a billion dollars, not when the government is facing a debt load of more than $500 billion and interest charges amounting to $120 million each and every day of the year.

For years now farmers in the western regions of the prairies have complained that maintaining Thunder Bay as the eastern pooling point was just not realistic and that it unfairly added to the cost borne by the producers in the western part of the prairies. For their part, the farmers in the eastern parts of the prairies have acknowledged this anomaly but have voiced concern about higher freight costs they would face if the eastern pooling point were changed from Thunder Bay to the lower St. Lawrence.

It is my belief that this bill strikes a careful balance between the interests of western and eastern prairie producers. It is a product of a long debate, going back as far as 1985, and more recent intensive analysis and close consultation involving the prairie farm organizations, industry, the provinces, and the grain cooperatives. This consultation has resulted in the proposed changes we are debating here today.

The grain farmers of western Canada have spoken. They have told us with a strong and united voice that there is a problem with the current grain pooling system, that the problem needs to be addressed, and that it must be addressed now.

We must act now. The freight pooling system has never involved a subsidy. It has involved a form of cross-subsidization of one group of farmers subsidizing those in another. These same producers are now telling us that they want this current arrangement brought to an end. The people have spoken. Change will be happening.