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

Canadian Wheat Board Act June 8th, 1995

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I would like to question the relevancy of what the member is speaking on in connection with Bill C-92.

Supply June 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, references were made to transportation and the WGTA in the red book.

I have to be honest. When I started into the campaign in 1993, a debate was going on about how transportation should be handled in various regions of the country, remembering that there is always a moving target. Conditions did change. We were facing as a government, possibly, circumstances that were not envisioned during the campaign. I will be succinct. In 1993 I was not of the view of the route on which the government has proceeded. We have had to rethink that whole circumstance.

Supply June 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Its thrust is similar to other segments of agricultural industry. I look at it in a similar fashion to hog production in Manitoba.

It is my understanding in terms of research that the thrust of the department is to attempt to put together partnerships involving the federal government, as well as specific provincial jurisdictions where there is great interest. More important, it is producers who are probably the most concerned about the genetic development of hogs, sheep or cattle and who may be addressing the markets on a global basis.

The best way to answer the question would be to indicate that the producers should be looking at bringing together their resources. Perhaps a check off system at the marketing end would help to address those concerns.

Supply June 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my support to Bill C-76.

The government has done its very best in the last two budgets to avoid any increase in personal taxes. Every $1 we raised in additional taxes was matched by $7 in spending cuts in the 1995 budget and $5 in cuts in the 1994 budget. Taxes on corporations were increased and the highly profitable Canadian banks will

pay a temporary surtax on their capital. All together, new taxes on corporations will raise an additional $974 million this year.

These measures are in addition to the improvements we have made to the tax system in the 1994 budget in which where we reduced the amount businesses could claim for meals and entertainment from 80 per cent to 50 per cent and we eliminated the $100,000 capital gains tax exemption which primarily benefited higher income Canadians.

During the prebudget period hundreds of Brandon-Souris constituents contacted my office and also made indirect contacts with the ministry. They sent all of us on this side of the House a message that the Liberal government must take strong action to break the back of the deficit. Great improvements and great strides have happened in this regard.

The preference for deep cuts in government spending versus any increase in personal taxation was stressed and our government responded accordingly.

I believe Bill C-76 is tough but fair. The finance minister worked hard to ensure balanced spending reductions and that the burden of deficit reduction is shared as evenly as possible in all regions.

The Brandon-Souris area is no exception. We did experience some reductions in personnel. Our weather station was closed. Those who work in Shilo will experience some job losses. However, this is being eased to some extent by the program put in place by various departments.

The elimination of the Crow rate is probably one of the most difficult for many farmers in our area to handle but many regard the transition as necessary.

Our government has cut spending dramatically but in a way consistent with the value of Canadians, promoting jobs and growth, protecting the most vulnerable members in our society and cutting at the government level first. Bill C-76 reflects the government's commitment to reducing government spending now while the economy is still in a growing cycle.

Decisive action today will ensure continued strength of the Canadian economy, protecting future jobs and prosperity. The decisions made with respect to agriculture will ensure Canadian farmers can take the best possible advantage of new global trade opportunities. Farming is best done by producers, not governments. That is why Bill C-76 is putting decision making back into the hands of the farmers.

We are expanding export markets and helping to create new domestic markets for commodities farmers across the prairies produce. How are we giving producers more control over their environment? Bill C-76 ushers in great improvements for Canadian farmers. The prairie grain cash advances would increase by $34 million. Cash flow enhancement programs would increase by $27.5 million. The NISA program would increase by $102 million. Transition programs to whole farm support for beef, lamb and hogs would increase by approximately $6 million. A matching investment initiative will increase by $12.7 million. Expanding export markets would increase by approximately $900 million. Further efforts are being made to expand the ethanol programs, and food safety would increase by about $5.8 million.

One of the most symbolical changes in the budget is the Crow rate. It has been recognized the Crow has caused some distortions and some inefficiencies both for the producers and for the transport companies. That will soon change. The Prime Minister was correct when he said that given half a chance farmers do not want subsidies, they want access to markets and they need and want fair prices.

It is the intention of the government to help farmers across the prairies do what they do best, feed the world, to diversify and to make a decent, honest living while doing it.

I believe the removal of the Crow rate will lead to increased value added production in the prairies over time. The circulation of billions of dollars and now the incentive to add value to agriproducts will provide opportunities and financing for the food processing industry in pasta plants, ethanol plants and many more we have not as yet conceived.

People learn to adjust to new opportunities and Manitobans have traditionally been trend setters in new markets. Clearly details need to be worked out, especially on pooling issues.

There is some concern regarding compensation for land values and how land owner payouts will be reflected in new lease arrangements on the approximately seven million rented acres in Manitoba. The reform of the WGTA will not be easy. The issues are complex but I am confident the minister will continue open discussions and that the $300 million transition adjustment fund will be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. The western economy will be stronger and more diversified with the removal of the WGTA.

It gives me great pleasure to bring forward two endorsements to the WGTA program, endorsements which are rather difficult to pry out of some with different political views from those of us on this side. It is sometimes very difficult to endorse or change an idea one does not have the courage to do oneself. I am pleased to indicate to the House that the first endorsement came from the Manitoba agriculture minister. He said that changes to the WGTA would rejuvenate the rural economy of Manitoba and would lead to an added value approach to farming and the development of job intensive processing industries.

The second endorsement came from one of my opponents in the 1993 election. He was in Ottawa this week. He said that the payment to landowners represents a reasonable compromise. It is not often that the three of us agree on anything, but miracles do happen in Manitoba and a miracle did happen in this instance.

Let me reiterate that although the government has cut spending dramatically, it has been done the cutting in a way which is consistent with the values of Canadians, promoting jobs and growth, protecting the west, protecting the most vulnerable in society and cutting the government purse.

Crime Prevention May 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I recently returned from the UN congress on the prevention of crime and treatment of offenders held in Cairo, Egypt.

I am proud to report that Canada continues to be recognized as an authority on human rights and a leader in attempting to identify the root causes of criminal behaviour.

Justice and Corrections Canada officials as well as participating NGOs combined their knowledge and expertise to establish a strong Canadian presence.

Our resolution which endorses the elimination of violence against women and children was supported by more than 55 countries. As well, during the Japanese sponsored gun control resolution Canada was commended for its leadership in establishing reasonable approaches to firearms legislation.

Other topical resolutions sought to discuss the standardization of extradition proceedings, the development of crime prevention strategies and to address juvenile and violent criminality and Internet protocol.

Forum For Young Canadians April 26th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, since its inception in 1975 the Forum for Young Canadians has become an institution for moulding a national identity.

For the past 20 years the forum has provided a rich and varied experience to approximately 10,000 young Canadians from across the country. Every year, 500 students from across Canada come to Ottawa to share their regional perceptions and concerns.

I believe that after living and working with their peers from all parts of the country these same students return home one week later having learned more about themselves and each other, their perceptions and concerns, as well as their common interests and bonds. They leave the program challenged, inspired and ready to play a leadership role in their communities.

I congratulate the students who have participated in this very valuable forum, the generous corporations and individuals who have made the work of the foundation possible, and the many volunteers and sponsors of the Forum for Young Canadians.

Farm Improvement And Marketing Cooperatives Loans Act April 24th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying that the level of interest in the agricultural community is very high with regard to this particular aspect of financing.

The access to capital is probably paramount to achieving long-term success in agriculture, as it may apply to farm improvements, processing, distribution and marketing of farm products. The program has proven very popular with farmers. The five-year, $1.5 billion cap has almost been reached. Consequently, we have two choices: increase the aggregate load limit

or suspend the program. I would like to examine those two options in greater detail today.

The first option is to increase the aggregate amount of loans that can be made under the FIMCLA program from $1.5 billion to $3 billion. In considering this option, one might ask how risky this program is and how many loans go into default. The record is really very good. The net claims rate-that is, the gross minus recoveries-is about 1 per cent, and has remained at that level fairly consistently over the last 25 years. There have been some blips. There have been occasions when it has risen as high as 1.5 per cent. On that occasion in the 1980s, it was caused by high interest rates, low farm income, and land devaluation.

Since 1992 there has been a significant reduction in claims and the program now has a positive cash flow. This is expected to continue at least through 1997. There will be some extra costs associated with the higher aggregate limit, but measures will be taken to offset this. For example, an increase of only 0.25 per cent in the registration fee would be sufficient to offset these extra costs and maintain the current level of liability for at least another five years. For the average loan of $27,000, this would amount to an increase in costs of $67.

The number of loans and any losses will continue to be monitored on an ongoing basis if the net claim rate is higher than anticipated. Program costs could be controlled. For example, the guaranteed level could be lowered from 95 per cent and loan eligibility could be limited or registration fees further increased. In other words, the aggregate limit can be increased at little or no cost to government, and should satisfy program demands for another 10 years. It is a positive measure that is supported by the agri-food sector and commercial lenders.

The second option is maintaining the status quo, keeping the current aggregate limit to $1.5 billion and suspending the program once the limit is reached.

In the first nine months of 1994-95, $422 million in loans were guaranteed under the act, bringing the five-year aggregate loan limit to $1.24 billion. If the current trend continues, the present $1.5 billion cap could be reached as early as June, at which time the program will have to be suspended. Since annual loan registrations are expected to continue in the $500 million range and the loans falling due are worth $80 million this year, $115 million next year, and $196 million the year after, the program would likely have to be suspended for about two more years.

Since no new revenue would be generated from registering fees during this period, the program's contingent liability will be no different from the first option; that is, increasing the aggregate limit to $3 billion, along with an increase in the registration fee of 0.25 per cent. Should the status quo be allowed to continue, long term program liabilities will likely be kept at today's estimate of $16 billion.

FIMCLA is supported by farmers and their organizations, especially the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, as well as the lenders. I believe it would be a mistake to allow it to be suspended. The program has been an inexpensive way for the government to support the agri-food sector. The net loss rate over 25 years has only been about 1 per cent. Increasing the FIMCLA cap allows for this low cost support to continue.

In conclusion, I ask the House to support Bill C-75 by increasing the aggregate principal amount of loans that can be guaranteed. The program can continue to be offered to farmers and farmer owned marketing cooperatives.

Ford World Curling Championships April 5th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, from April 8 to April 16, the 1995 Ford World Curling Championships will be held at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, Manitoba.

Leading the event will be the Canadian men's and women's champions, all behind the broom and delivering from the province of Manitoba.

Skipping across the world we will see over 30 countries in the hack, sliding, sweeping and spieling for the world title.

Second to none, this international event will be attended by over 12,000 fans per day, drawing weight from over 1,000 international visitors at each end.

Third in the history of Brandon's hosting of national and international curling events, countless exhibits will be featured at the curling world with the first ever Olympic flag flying overhead.

Off the ice and out of the rink, during the day and well into the night, I invite and encourage everyone to get involved in the nine fun-filled days in Brandon, the button of world curling.

Petitions March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the third petition was signed by individuals from Cromer, Oak Lake, Kenton and Virden.

They call upon Parliament to ensure that the present provisions of the Criminal Code that prohibit assisted suicide be vigorously enforced and that Parliament make no changes in the law that would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

Petitions March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the second petition was signed by 31 people from the Brandon-Souris area.

It calls upon Parliament to amend the Canadian Human Rights act to protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation.