Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Kindersley—Lloydminster (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions February 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to present two petitions which are signed by 50 petitioners.

The petitioners note that approximately 52 per cent of the cost of a litre of gasoline at the pumps is in the form of taxes. They ask that the gasoline tax not be increased in the budget.

I am very happy to present these petitions to the House.

Petitions February 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to table two petitions from constituents in Saskatchewan, including Mrs. Wilma Ritz.

The petitioners request that Parliament realize that 38 per cent of the national highway system is substandard. They call upon Parliament to urge the federal government to join with provincial governments to make national highway system upgrading possible.

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997

There is certainly an incentive to be dishonest.

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997

Do you even know what you are talking about?

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997

A dishonest question.

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997

The member from Peace River says that the minister has failed to show leadership and I certainly concur in that observation.

First he delayed making any changes to reform the board for more than two years. That allowed the uncertainty and mistrust to fester. Next he created a political charade in the form of the western grain marketing panel. After it came out with a half decent report, he ignored it, particularly the most important compromises it suggested. Based on the results of secret polls the minister decided the only way he would win a vote on barley marketing was by basing it on an all or nothing type question: no flexibility, no middle ground.

Now the minister thinks that by appointing a partially elected, part time board with minimal power that farmers demanding significant change will be satisfied. Then he will be able to wash his hands of the issue. The minister is certainly mistaken.

Some of the more substantial problems with the bill include the fact that it strengthens the government's control over the board rather than passing that control and responsibility on to the producers who actually pay for the services of the Canadian Wheat Board. The board will only be partially elected. The bill states that one or more directors may be elected. We know that the minister will agree to changes to that clause in the bill simply to mask some of the other controls that he does not want to let go, such as the government will appoint the chairman and president or chief executive officer instead of those people being selected by the directors who are elected by the farmers.

The government can dismiss a director at any time without cause. This is extremely unacceptable. This is the way tin pot dictators operate. I am ashamed that the minister of agriculture would bring in such an inferior piece of legislation. It shows no confidence in farmers to elect capable and competent directors to run the board.

The new board of directors must follow any directions it receives from the federal government, even if the directors believe such orders are not in the best interests of farmers.

The legislation allows the board to restore its authority over the feed grain market. This has been fairly controversial. Lorne Hehn, the chief commissioner of the board said it was a mistake, an error, and that it should be changed. However, the minister said no, it was not an error and that people misunderstood the bill. It certainly has the minister of agriculture for Alberta rather concerned. It is absolutely necessary to change this in the bill to make sure that we do not revert to 1973 marketing of prairie feed grains where barley could not even be moved across a provincial boundary without breaking the law. It is bad enough that our farmers cannot move their grain across international boundaries without breaking the law. If this bill is not corrected we may be breaking the law by moving our grain from Alberta to Saskatchewan or vice versa. This has to be changed.

This bill reduces the possibility of future changes to the board's mandate. In order to make a significant change to the board's mandate farmers must go through an excessive approval process. First the board must recommend change. Then the Canadian Grain Commission must approve the change. Then there must be a producer vote held with a question determined by the minister. It sounds pretty rigged to me and it is certainly not showing any confidence of farmers to manage their own Canadian Wheat Board. Even after the vote, however, the minister would not be compelled to act on the results. Talk about arrogance and a lack of confidence. I find this measure in the bill absolutely disgusting.

No other political party has stated its position more clearly and more openly than Reform on matters related to the Canadian Wheat Board and the current barley plebiscite. Reform has repeatedly stated that we support and will work toward a reformed Canadian Wheat Board that is more accountable, more flexible and a board in which participation is voluntary. That is the debate that is out there among prairie producers and we know that is where support is growing. No matter what the minister does, eventually farmers will persist and will accomplish what they want.

We believe that only constructive changes to the board today will ensure its survival and effectiveness into the future and we do not advocate destruction of the board; only our political opponents are making those claims on our behalf.

In closing, the minister of agriculture has done more to damage the board, more to bring its usefulness into doubt in farmer's minds and more to hurt us internationally than anyone, all of us who have suggested that the board should be changed constructively to prepare producers to market in the 21st century.

The minister is moving us backwards; we want to move forward. This is bill is unacceptable in its present form and must changed substantially. I call on members of the committee to do that.

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, we are addressing the motion to refer Bill C-72 to committee. This is something that we have pressed the government to do, not because the legislation is good but simply because the public, particularly the farm community, needs to be exposed to this legislation so they realize how bad it really is.

The minister has made absolutely no progress on reforming grain marketing under the Canadian Wheat Board, just like he has made no permanent progress to reduce transportation inefficiencies in the movement of prairie grain, and just like he has made no progress in correcting the wrong-headed approach to cost recovery.

This is not because the minister is unaware of the issue. He is a Saskatchewan boy. He wandered around in the political wilderness of Saskatchewan for what seemed like 40 years as the leader of the provincial Liberal Party, after he was elected for a very short period to the House of Commons. The people of Saskatchewan very seldom vote for the Liberals but when they do, they boot them out sooner rather than later.

There is a real possibility, if the Liberals call a spring election, that this bill will not receive final approval from Parliament. It is unforgivable that the government has delayed bringing forward reforms to the Canadian Wheat Board.

We are now in the second half of February and this bill is just being referred to committee. It needs to be dealt with by the committee, come back for third reading, go to the Senate and receive royal assent. On top of that, it is a very flawed bill and needs a lot of work.

The probability of this bill passing at this point seems rather remote unless the government has a change of heart and is prepared to make significant changes to the bill.

Bill C-72 is a clear message to the prairie grain industry that the minister wants to fail at market reform. If he does not want it to fail, then he thinks he can pull a fast one on the industry by trying to mask minimal changes to the board, particularly its governance, leaving himself securely as the commandant of the board.

Bill C-72 is badly drafted legislation that needs a series of major changes, and I stress major changes, to make it acceptable to the prairie industry and, more importantly, to individual farmers who are going to find out that this board is not the more accountable, more flexible Canadian Wheat Board that they were promised by the Liberal government.

The purpose of the bill is to change the governance, to make the board of directors an elected one rather than appointed commissioners. It is supposed to make it a more responsive, more communicative and more open marketing institution but it does not accomplish this.

We believe the government's proposed amendments to the board are weak, ineffective and a slap in the face to prairie producers. The government is telling them that they cannot manage their own marketing affairs, that in some way they are inferior to the producers of Ontario, Quebec and other commodities within Canada where producers are able to very effectively and capably manage their marketing affairs.

It is a matter to be seen whether or not the Liberal government will allow the wholesale changes to Bill C-72 that are permitted under the rules where a bill is referred to committee prior to second reading. Based on our experience we have found that amendments have been few and far between, usually cosmetic in nature and not very substantive.

Many farmers are beginning to believe that the minister of agriculture has manipulated the wheat board reform process. This has resulted in uncertainty, division and fear among western farmers. I have never seen an issue develop into such a divisive issue with the encouragement of the minister. At every opportunity he has poured gas on the fire rather than try to bring some positive, constructive and conciliatory measures forward to bring an end to some of the division and hard feelings that are mounting in the prairies over this issue.

Supply February 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member for Saskatoon-Dundurn speak about the programs which are funded by the heritage department and the heritage minister. Coming from Saskatchewan as well, I know that the average person who walks on the streets of Saskatoon or in rural Saskatchewan is not very impressed with most of the programs and projects funded by Heritage Canada. There are a few things that need to be funded, such as discrimination against racism and so on and so forth.

The provincial government has withdrawn funding for health care and the federal government has followed suit and withdrawn billions of dollars from health care. How can the member stand in the House to defend the third or fourth rate priority funding of Heritage Canada when funding for health care has been so drastically reduced? It is certainly not going over well in Saskatchewan.

Farm Industry February 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Canada's farm industry is fighting mad over the Liberal government's Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the PMRA. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Soybean Growers and the B.C. Horticultural Coalition are just a few to be named. Producers are angry too.

Producers are angry that the PMRA's bloated bureaucracy has ballooned by 100 per cent. Producers are angry that it takes 11 PMRA bureaucrats to register one product in Canada. Producers are angry that the government's own studies show that almost one-third of currently registered pesticides will be withdrawn under the PMRA. Producers are angry that the PMRA proposes to re-register all of the 900 farm pesticides now on the market, and do so every three to five years.

Once again the Liberal government is putting bureaucracy ahead of common sense. What the PMRA should really stand for is "producers made really angry".

Supply February 13th, 1997

They may not have a plan.