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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for British Columbia Southern Interior (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, if 88% or 80% or 70% of the members want to have a vote on single desk selling then of course they should do that. Let us remember that the government is a grassroots party. Let us respect the grassroots and let us go along with the farmers and let them have that vote.

Committees of the House October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I am wondering about the same thing myself.

We need the power of the marketplace nowadays to be able to compete with other countries and multinational companies. It seems to me that, if we start dismantling our Canadian Wheat Board, we are going to lose our ability and power to compete and, in the end, the farmers will suffer.

Committees of the House October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the question was, but it was an interesting discourse. Let us ask the farmers for their opinion. Let us ask them. Let us have the plebiscite and we will see. Are they on board or are they not on board? It is as simple as that.

Committees of the House October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

First, I want to say that I think this gag order is an insult to farmers. The last time this happened was to stop selling wheat to the former Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan. By the way, we know that the mighty Soviet machine was not able to conquer Afghanistan. There may be a lesson for us.

My point and the point of my party is simple. Let the farmers decide the fate of the Canadian Wheat Board. Currently, there are democratic elections in place in the Canadian Wheat Board. Instead of letting them play out as they should, there seems to be interference by the minister.

Once the director elections are finished, there should be a plebiscite. Let us end this debate once and for all. Everybody says the government represents the farmers and thinks it knows what it is doing. Let us have a plebiscite. In a cooperative spirit, the minister could work with the Canadian Wheat Board in formulating a question and this would be the democratic process. It is as simple as that.

A small minority of those who want to go it alone should not be able to destroy the future of the majority of farmers. That is the question today. That is the question we are facing.

The Prime Minister is about to deliver what an American based WTO challenge and countervail action could not accomplish. In April 2002, following a meeting with top U.S. trade officials, North Dakota wheat commissioner chair Maynard Satrom assured growers that the common objective of both the U.S. government and the U.S. wheat producers is the ultimate reform of the monopolistic Canadian Wheat Board.

The U.S. department of agriculture stated that American growers should be able to freely compete with Canadian grain for Canadian rail shipments. The USDA has called for a fundamental reform of organizations such as the Canadian Wheat Board to permanently assure that U.S. producers are treated fairly in the world market.

Our Canadian government is following along with the demands of the American government and American multinational corporations. Dual marketing is a whistle stop. Multinational competitors with deep pockets will bid away grain into the short term and the Canadian Wheat Board will eventually cease to exist.

Once again, farm economists say that grower premiums that are $30 to $45 per tonne will disappear forever. There will be a domino effect. The producer cars will probably diminish or disappear. We have the whole problem of the Port of Churchill in Manitoba.

Mr. Speaker, the government is doing its best to take marketing powers away from western producers. It wants to set up a dual marketing system under which the Canadian Wheat Board would be but one exporter of western Canada's wheat and barley. As we know, Canada's competition on the world market, including the United States, has long been fighting to reduce our producers' marketing powers.

There is a connection between two Canadian programs, namely the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management. Both are threatened under the WTO. If we give up our Canadian Wheat Board single desk seller, then supply management will also disappear. Multinationals, through the Conservative government, are very close to achieving their goal.

The government is under the impression that it was given a mandate to fully pursue free market initiatives on January 23. It does not feel that consulting producers unquestionably means holding a referendum. We are faced with the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board.

It is interesting to note that, a few years ago, the Prime Minister publicly supported producers who had circumvented the law by exporting wheat without going through the Canadian Wheat Board. The government wants to take powers away from producers and give them to multinationals.

The attack on the Canadian Wheat Board is another example of the heavy handed approach by the so-called new government to ram its agenda through, just as we have seen in the softwood lumber agreement, for example. Yet, we know that 75% of those people who use the Canadian Wheat Board would like to have a plebiscite, so the question is, is this ideologically driven?

I am receiving letters from farmers, as are all MPs, stating that they want the Wheat Board to continue. My hope then is that the Conservative MPs who represent the farmers will listen to them. My message to the farmers is: if they are not happy, they should talk to their MPs, put them on the spot, and ensure that they do exactly what the farmers want because I have a feeling the government is not doing that at the present time.

Committees of the House October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am going through some material here, comments over the last few years made by the hon. parliamentary secretary. It seems to be a trend, a vendetta against the Wheat Board, that it is corrupt, that its directors are stealing money, that it has broken laws and refuses to sell grain.

I am just wondering if the parliamentary secretary and his government is representing the farmers. We are representing the farmers. We are speaking for farmers. There are grassroots organizations and other people speaking up and letters coming in.

How do the Conservatives know that they represent the majority of the farmers? I think they do not know because they are afraid to have a vote.

Is the parliamentary secretary in agreement with me?

Canadian Wheat Board October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, that reminds us of the shameful softwood lumber agreement. I asked a very simple question. Does he intend to allow the 85,000 farmers who use the Wheat Board a democratic vote?

There should be no more talk about choice. The only choice is whether the government will follow the law or break the law, extend the rights of farmers or deny them, support democracy or suffocate it. Which is it? Will farmers get a say, yes or no?

Canadian Wheat Board October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the government has clearly stated its intention to cut out the Wheat Board's legs from under it. It has appointed a minister who opposes the mandate of the Wheat Board and has done everything in his power to systematically destroy this Canadian institution, with sham round tables, closed door meetings and whisper campaigns.

I have a simple question for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. Will he allow, as the law states, the 85,000 farmers who use the Wheat Board a vote on its future, yes or no?

Canadian Wheat Board September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my dismay on behalf of the thousands of western Canadian farmers who are distressed by the government's attacks on the Canadian Wheat Board.

The multinational grain corporations have found another government willing to do their dirty work, remove a formidable competitor, and then capture the price advantage of our superior Canadian wheat.

Bundles of letters are coming in expressing this outrage and demanding that farmers themselves decide the future of the Wheat Board at the grassroots level. This is not a time for big government, whether new or old, to be dictating the future of the family farm.

Let us be clear: if the government successfully undermines our Canadian Wheat Board today, this will be the beginning of the end for our supply management system, which should very much please the large multinational companies.

It is time that our federal government support our Canadian and Quebec farmers in their fight for the survival of rural communities.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech, which was nearly as fascinating and energetic as the one before it. The only difference between my party and his is that we will eventually come to power, and I hope we can count on his party's support when the time comes.

My question for my hon. colleague is this: Does he think that this bad deal will have a negative impact on other sectors of Canadian industry, such as the agricultural and manufacturing sectors? Will this bad deal lead to other bad deals?

Canadian Wheat Board September 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has uncovered documents that prove this so-called support is nothing more than professional spin doctors from the disgraced Devine government posing as farmers.

In this email, from Charlton Communications to three anti-Wheat Board lobby groups, it says that having farmers sign letters they write would “get us into the propaganda game”. The email was also copied to a current member of the minister's Wheat Board killing task force.

Is the minister aware of this campaign? Is his department paying for it? What is he going to do to stop it?