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

National Parks October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Since the turn of the century entrance fees have been charged in Canada's national parks. Many park users are willing to continue to pay their fair share, provided they know that their money is being well spent.

After two months of consultations with national parks stakeholders, can the minister tell us what he plans to do to modify the economics of national parks and when these changes may begin?

Canada Grain Act October 4th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-51, an act to amend the Canada Grain Act.

Bill C-51 has much to commend it. It addresses the need for regulatory reform. It introduces necessary protections for producers and taxpayers and it gives the Canadian Grain Commission more of the tools it needs to do the job on behalf of producers, the grain industry and Canadians in general.

There are many aspects of Bill C-51 worth commenting on. The one I wish to speak on however is the strengthened emphasis on grain quality.

We depend very heavily on international trade. As my colleague has mentioned, we export from 25 million to 30 million tonnes of grain per year, more than half of our annual grain production. It is difficult to overstate how crucial grain quality is to our success in international markets. No other factor is as central to Canada's impressive international marketing record.

When we consider some of the disadvantages Canadian producers face it is easy to see why quality has emerged as our marketing edge. Our producers must move grain farther to export locations than any of our competitors in other countries. Our harsh climate works against high yields. Our tax base is smaller than those of competing countries and we cannot play the export subsidy game and win. We are left with the quality of our product, a card that Canada plays with great effectiveness.

With approximately 20 per cent of the global market, we are on average the world's second largest wheat exporter, ahead of the European Community, Australia, Argentina and everyone

else. We are surpassed only by the United States. We are second in barley, accounting for over 30 per cent of the world market. We command over 40 per cent of the world's canola markets, almost as much as is exported by all the countries of western Europe combined. We are unique in that we are the only major exporter of that product.

We lead the world in flaxseed exports that account for over 70 per cent of the market. Canada's refusal to compromise on delivering cargoes of uniform consistent quality has served us well. As the CGC plays a pivotal role in Canada's grain hauling system, I am pleased to see provisions in Bill C-51 that reinforce this marketing strategy.

For example, there is a provision allowing the CGC to set out methods, visual or otherwise, for determining the characteristics of the grain for purposes of meeting the quality requirements of purchasers of grain. The significance of this amendment is that it gives the commission the authority to specify procedures for determining the quality of grain so that the industry can deliver the quality desired by the end users.

With the commission's considerable expertise in grain quality assessment this amendment positions the CGC to ensure that emerging procedures and technologies meet end user needs and increase returns to producers.

Another provision of Bill C-51 confirms the CGC's authority to specify the correct handling and treatment of grain and hazardous substances in grain elevators. This provision strengthens Canada's commitment for safe, wholesome food and to environmentally sustainable practices.

Finally, Bill C-51 confirms CGC's authority to set grain drying standards. The commission has paid careful attention to this issue over the years because improper drying seriously harms grain quality. Often the damage is not visually apparent and problems are only detected when the grain is processed. The commission has worked hard to educate producers and others on the proper techniques. This provision will give the CGC more authority to move in this area.

There are some who believe that Canada over emphasizes grain quality. In a hungry world they argue Canada need not place as much emphasis or effort as it does on ensuring that Canadian grain meets the high standards it is known for.

I believe quality will become more important than ever before. With the ratification of the GATT tariff walls will soon be falling around the world and subsidies will melt away. To maintain their position our wealthier competitors in Europe and the United States will have to become more quality conscious, more like Canada if they want to compete. Already we are seeing signs they are beginning to understand this.

I will conclude with the words of one of Canada's grain customers spoken at Grain Vision'93, an international symposium that the Canadian Grain Commission held last year: "The current Canadian system of utilizing quality to link all aspects of business to achieve the marketing strategy of exporting at a premium 80 to 90 per cent of total wheat crop is now unique in the world. If you begin to implement changes for short term volume goals the end result will all too quickly be a situation where you become just another `me too' supplier of which the world has all too many at present".

This sentiment was echoed by speaker after speaker at this conference. More tellingly, their appreciation of Canada's quality system is illustrated by their continued purchases of Canadian grain.

Bill C-51 strengthens Canada's grain quality system. For this reason alone it deserves our support.

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

Madam Speaker, in relation to the components of the bill, we are talking only of wheat and barley.

I would bring to the attention of the members opposite the fact that if we are talking about the $21 million that agri-food and agriculture have in place right now, I believe those allocations are put through the budgetary process from this department.

If we are talking about the half cent, the $4.5 million that we are discussing here today, we are only talking about wheat and barley research. I can only comment that I would not support additional funding out of this allocation for anything other than barley and wheat research.

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I deem it an opportunity to speak on Bill C-50 with a backdrop of optimism and accomplishment in this harvest season throughout our country.

Our agriculture and agri-food sector is positioning itself to tackle the future with increased confidence and fundamental strength. We must ensure the decisions we make today and the initiatives we undertake in the future are part of a comprehensive long term plan for a modern progressive industry that is nothing less than the best in the world.

Research is fundamental to this government's goal of making Canada the world agriculture and agri-food leader. Without research the grain farmers of the Canadian prairies would never have gained their reputation as producers of the highest quality wheat in the world, a reputation that is well deserved and one that the government intends to preserve, protect and promote.

In our platform outlined in the red book the government made a very strong commitment to research. Currently the Department of Agriculture and Agri-food spends about $21.5 million on wheat research and $8 million on barley research each year. The industry has recognized that we need to do more to keep up with our competitors and the industry has recognized that government cannot and probably should not do it alone.

It has looked at what we need to maintain our international reputation and keep up with competitors like Australia and the EEC which have been investing heavily in their wheat and barley production and programs for several years. They have realized we need to spend additional money on research.

This is why I am recommending the House support the proposed amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act that we are discussing today. These amendments are required to make way for a voluntary wheat and barley check-off that would help fund plant breeding research in western Canada. It is estimated that the proposed wheat and barley check-off will result in about $4.7 million additional cost per year added to the funds already mentioned earlier today.

What do prairie producers hope to accomplish with the additional infusion of funding into plant breeding research? They hope to continue to develop new strains, to meet new and developing markets, and to better meet changing climatic conditions.

As the minister outlined earlier this morning plant breeding research gives us new varieties to resist disease and insects, to increase yields and produce higher grades. The voluntary check-off program was brought to the government by the Western Grains Research Foundation. The foundation has a track record in supporting effective, purer research in the west.

The idea for the check-off came about when the producer organizations making up the foundation were discussing the problem how to innovatively boost research funding. They did not come to the government asking for additional funding. They did not throw up their hands in despair because the money was not handed to them. They came with a plan of action. They said they wanted to place some of the responsibility squarely on their own shoulders.

Since that time the Western Grains Research Foundation had been working with my colleague, the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, to develop the mechanism to make their proposal a reality. The proposal is being brought to the House today for additional member support. I believe that this legislation is indeed an excellent example of a partnership initiative which will benefit the entire sector.

While the legislation before the House today calls for amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act, all funds will be managed by a third party with emphasis on funding work that will meet future marketing needs. The foundation will be accountable to the very producers who pay for it, accountable through an annual report to all permanent book holders and accountable to producers who have the ability to opt out at any time. Any producer who does not wish to participate may so indicate in writing and indicate that they are not supportive of the program.

The projections however are that a 90 per cent participation will be in place because of the producer driven initiatives mentioned earlier.

In conclusion, through partnership efforts such as this leading edge research and development will continue to receive support. The grain producers of western Canada may ask for your support of these legislative amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act, legislative amendments which will allow them to divert a portion of their income toward their future, a future that they can secure through technology.

Agriculture April 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud the minister of agriculture for his commitment and resolve to protect the Canada agri-food industry in light of the recent request by the U.S. to renegotiate agricultural products under article XXVIII of the GATT.

The minister has assured the country the government will continue to negotiate in good faith but will not support a deal unless it is good for Canada. This means it must be a good deal for grains, food processing and the supply managed sectors.

I am confident although Canada regrets the U.S. intends to attempt to increase its tariffs on barley and wheat, that cooler heads will prevail and a good result for both countries will be reached.

Ryan White Bill April 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today marks the day that the United States of America adopts the Ryan White bill, a bill that was endorsed by President Bush but is being enacted by President Clinton. It is a law that mandates hospitals to notify emergency response personnel about the infectious status of a patient who was treated by the emergency worker.

This law prohibits involuntary testing of patients and only requires the hospital to share any such information in its possession. The program is also structured in a way that protects the confidentiality of patients.

I would encourage all members of the House to co-operate in establishing such legislation in Canada.

Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be able to inform the House that full police service will soon be restored to the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council communities in Manitoba through the implementation of an interim policing arrangement.

DOTC communities have been without full police service since the disbanding of the DOTC police service five months ago. This interim policing service will be made up of RCMP officers and former DOTC officers under the general direction of the RCMP.

The interim policing arrangement will remain in effect until a more permanent tripartite policing arrangement is negotiated by the federal government, the province of Manitoba and the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council.

I would like to express my thanks to the Solicitor General of Canada, the Manitoba justice minister and the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council for their efforts. Without their goodwill and co-operation this arrangement would not have been made.

Crime Stoppers February 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on January 22 I was arrested and released on bail by the Brandon Crime Stoppers Association. My charge was allegedly making the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada look like a luxurious outhouse known as a two-seater.

I am currently released, providing sufficient bail is raised. Money is raised by such fund raising events to rally the public, the police and the media in a collective campaign against crime. Anonymous tips lead to arrests of suspects and these cash payouts for valuable information are funded by volunteer contributions and fund raisers.

Crime Stoppers is an extremely cost effective organization. Since 1985 in Manitoba over $1 million in contraband has been recovered and $3.5 million in personal property.

I commend the volunteers associated with Crime Stoppers and encourage all members of the House to support, promote and contribute to their local Crime Stoppers program.

Excise Act February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, might I through you ask a question about the differential in price between the American commodity and the Canadian commodity before the imposition of this new bill.

Does the member opposite feel that is contributing to an excessive amount of contraband smuggling?

Canada Student Loans Program February 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this occasion to share with my hon. colleagues the fact that yesterday I received a Valentine from the Canadian Federation of Students in Manitoba. The Valentine's message outlines concerns over the relationship between the previous government's Canada Student Loans Program and students relying on this program.

On behalf of those students I would encourage all members of the House to participate in supporting changes to the program which would include the reintroduction of a six month interest free period, no privatization and a full re-evaluation of eligibility criteria and of the weekly loan limits.

Mr. Speaker and all hon. members, if you love education this Valentine is aimed at you.