House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was grain.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Cypress Hills—Grasslands (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 69% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Nuclear Safety and Control Act October 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked if we could trust the government and I would suggest that we cannot. This is the same government that intends to jail Canadian farmers in less than three weeks for trying to market their own grain.

I want to come back to a point that he made earlier. He said that workers were supporting this agreement. The reason they are supporting it is that they do not know what the agreement holds. The more people find out about it, the more concerned they are.

My concern is mainly over agricultural issues. I want to refer to one of the only studies on Kyoto and agriculture that we could find. It was conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation. We had to go to the United States to find any information. Absolutely nothing has been done in Canada on the effects of Kyoto on agriculture. It suggests that Kyoto would increase farm expenses by up to 32%, depress annual farm income by 24% to 48%, diminish agricultural exports and put many farmers out of business. In fact, this study called the Kyoto protocol the single biggest public policy threat to the agricultural community today.

The members represent a party that calls itself democratic. I am unsure as to why they would be in favour of an agreement that would be so devastating to agriculture. These questions need to be answered. What will be the impact of higher energy prices? How many farmers will that put out of business? What will be the impact of non-implementing countries that we have to compete against? How will the protocol mechanism affect farmers?

I am a little uncertain as to why his party would take a position that is so aggressively against agriculture and farmers?

Prairie Grain Farmers October 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, one week ago we made the House aware that the government is preparing to jail farmers for 25 to 125 days. Three weeks from now, they will be thrown into jail. Their crime? Taking small quantities of wheat across the U.S. border and selling it or giving it away without the permission of the Canadian Wheat Board.

It is appalling that in the 21st century, the government refuses to grant prairie farmers the same basic rights and freedoms enjoyed by grain farmers in the rest of the country. It is a matter of public record that when wheat was recently exported from Ontario without a licence, no legal action was taken. Why are prairie farmers facing fines and jail sentences over something that is winked at in other parts of the country?

Will the minister responsible finally listen and do the right thing, or is he actually prepared to jail Canadians for marketing their own wheat? The countdown continues. He has three weeks.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act October 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would like a little clarification from my colleague who did an excellent job in his speech today. Is he suggesting that we have a choice?

It seems on one hand we have a protocol that will lock us into limits on greenhouse gases which other countries do not have. Then, in order to reach those limits, we will have to take from $2 billion to $5 billion per year to pay another country to buy credits from it so that we can meet our standards.

We have information that there will be a tremendous impact on agriculture. The only study that has been done is out of the United States. It indicates that it will cost farm production billions of dollars and depress annual farm incomes by 24% to 48%.

Does the member not think it would be better if we had a made in Canada solution where we work together to set the standards for our own country and then spend our $2 billion to $5 billion in Canada to reach those standards rather than giving it to someone else to buy artificial credits?

Kyoto Protocol October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, that is rubbish. He would blame the 1930s on climate change.

Four years ago an American study determined that implementing Kyoto would increase farm expenses by up to 32%, depress annual farm income by 24% to 48%, diminish agricultural exports and put farmers out of business. It called the Kyoto protocol the single biggest public policy threat to the agricultural community today.

Why is the government moving to ratify Kyoto when our competitors have determined that it will devastate agricultural economies?

Kyoto Protocol October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, recent reports indicate that implementing the Kyoto protocol will inflict serious economic damage. Yet after an extensive search we have found that no studies have been completed to determine Kyoto's impact on agriculture in Canada.

Why is the government moving to ratify Kyoto without knowing the effect it will have on Canadian farmers and farm families?

Agriculture October 7th, 2002

The response from the other side sickens me. They are agriculture-related people who are supposed to be defending farmers' interests and they stand over there and condemn western Canadian farmers for trying to make a living.

It appalls me that this continues to happen in the government. At least it is consistent. It has humiliated, threatened and harassed these people for six years and it sounds from the other side as if it will continue to do that, this at a time when sex offenders get $100 fines, or as for domestic abusers, this summer I read of a case where the man was sent home to house arrest after abusing his spouse. They will lock up these farmers and that is ridiculous.

It reminds me of another situation in that movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? , when the warden tells the guys he is going to hang them even though they have already been pardoned. What he says is “The law is a human institution. Perhaps you should start saying your prayers”. That is the situation these farmers find themselves in.

Farmers are under other pressures as well. In particular, as always, we find ourselves under the pressure of the environment. We live in a world and we work at a job where the environment is very important to us. I took great offence this spring at the suggestion of the Minister of the Environment that the reason there was a drought in western Canada was climate change. That is not the case. We have had droughts off and on over the years. One of the things we expect is that the government protect us from natural disasters. It is one of the few things that western Canadian farmers are asking for, other than the freedom to be able to make their own decisions and choices.

This summer was not the first drought we have seen, but the government response was typical of what we have seen in the past. That was virtually nothing. If it were not for some civic counsellors and some MPs in western Canada, and I think particularly of the hon. member for Crowfoot and my colleague from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar who allowed their offices to be used to take names, and other people like my hon. friend from Lakeland, if it had not been for them and the generosity of the individuals in Ontario, probably nothing would have happened to help out those farmers, because the government certainly was not responsive to them. If anything, the government hindered rather than helped in this situation.

I was in Ontario talking with some people and they said that they ship hay all over North America and have done for years. They said that they had never heard of the fact that they have to fumigate hay before shipping it out of this area. They have shipped to Pennsylvania, Florida and western Canada, but when there was a situation where people actually wanted to help other people, the government was, of all things, more of a hindrance than a help to farmers.

The money coming out to farmers, I should mention, is not drought money. The government talks about the money coming out. It is not a drought package. It is not any special assistance money. That money was put in the program last spring. We have had that money announced ten different times out on the Prairies. Different ministers have come to announce the same money, but it never comes out. I am glad to hear that some of it may be beginning to come out now. Perhaps we will have it by Christmas. The drought was last spring; the help comes many months later.

Has the government's support fixed the farm income crisis? As we get away from the summer of drought, the issue is not the drought any more. It is the farm income that farmers will not have through this winter and next summer. The question is, what has the government done to fix that farm income problem? It has left the farmers with AIDA and CFIP, which have been a total disaster up to now. It has left them with NISA, which is an okay program for the most part except that in this situation some people who have put money into it cannot access that money, for a couple of reasons. One is that they do not trigger the withdrawal. More serious than that, we have had constituents coming in who have said the government gave them the impression over the last couple of years that they should get out of NISA, that it was important to get out of it because the government was closing it down. Now the government is using it as the program to distribute the money. The farmers ask which is it? It cannot be both.

The Canadian Alliance is offering solutions to the problems facing agriculture, real solutions for a real world with real weather, not recycled and rehashed proposals. We have suggested some things like the emergency disaster relief fund, which needs to be in place permanently, enhanced crop insurance to take care of the situations when we need crop insurance, and enhanced NISA to give people the opportunity to access that money in those accounts. Also, in our trade negotiations, why do we not show some guts? We have another challenge against our wheat system in western Canada and the government has had no response at all. We would like to decide how we market our grain, but the government has a responsibility to respond to those trade challenges. It has not done that. As well, the government needs to reduce regulations, not increase them.

Another thing the government needs to do is take a serious look at Kyoto. Up to now it has not done anything on that. It has not examined the problems that Kyoto is going to cause for agriculture. We think and we know that they will be extensive.

Farmers are in a situation like the bar owner who had a contest in his bar. He was a strong fellow and set up a prize of $1,000 for anyone stronger than he was. The challenge went like this. He would squeeze all the juice out of a lemon and then turn it over to the challenger. If challengers could get another drop out of that lemon, they would win the money. One day a scrawny little guy walked in. He was wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit. He a squeaky voice and said “I'd like to take that bet”. Of course the laughter erupted around the bar and the bartender said “Okay. That's fine”. He grabbed the lemon, squeezed it and then handed the wrinkled rind to the little guy, who grabbed a hold of it and squeezed that lemon. Out came six more drops of lemon juice. Of course, the whole place cheered. The bartender was going to pay him his money and said to him “What is it that you do for a living?” The little guy replied “I work for the federal government”.

There is an ancient but applicable saying that without vision the people perish. This has never been more true than it is right now in the farming community. If the minister and his department would begin to put farmers ahead of this lemon-squeezing bureaucracy, we could have an effective, aggressive, progressive farm policy.

Agriculture October 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yellowhead.

I would like to point out first of all that we did not wait until fall for the agriculture issue to become a priority for us. I would like to mention that on May 29 we applied for an emergency debate on this subject. I rose to raise an application for an emergency debate, made under Standing Order 52, concerning an important and urgent matter that we thought was affecting the agricultural industry. For the second consecutive year, most farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta and many other areas of Canada were confronting the effects of another drought. The Department of Agriculture had been closely monitoring drought conditions but all indications were pointing to another hard summer for Prairie producers. Through the winter and spring the Prairies received very little precipitation. Spring runoff levels were non-existent in some areas. The South Saskatchewan River should have been teeming with water right then but because of low water levels it looked more like a creek.

Our livestock producers were also dreading this summer. They too rely on the land to feed their cattle. Local forage for cattle and other livestock was already very limited in May. Agriculture Canada was indicating that grass growth on pastures was going to be poor across the Prairies. If producers could not allow their cattle to graze on local pasture that meant they would be forced to either sell their cattle or buy feed at exorbitant prices. There was an added concern of an infestation of grasshoppers in Alberta, in Saskatchewan and in Manitoba as well. Agriculture Canada in fact listed a portion of my riding and three other areas in Alberta as having a very severe risk of a grasshopper outbreak.

Our point was that members needed to have the opportunity to draw to the attention of cabinet the serious conditions in western Canada and the importance of effective safety nets, unlike the current crop insurance program. If the minister had made these issues a priority as the Alliance did early on last spring, the government actually could have had an active role to play in the problems that we faced in western Canada this spring and summer.

I had a chance a while ago to watch the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? in which in one scene the three main characters, Everett, Pete and Delmar, sit around a fire discussing what they would do with the loot they dig up. They ask Delmar what he would do with it and he says “Visit those foreclosin' son of a guns down at the Indianola Savings and Loan and slap that cash down on the barrelhead and buy back the family ain't no kind of man if you ain't got land”. And farmers ain't nothing without a farm. The way the government is working, we are going to have a lot fewer people with land.

Farmers are under pressure. I will talk a little tonight about some of the pressures they are under. One of them is that farmers in this country are being intimidated and threatened by their own government.

In 1996 a group of farmers decided that they would take some wheat down to the U.S. border. Some of them took a load or two of wheat. A few of them actually took one bushel of grain across the border and donated it to a local 4-H club. When the courts began ruling in favour of the farmers, the government actually came to this place and changed the legislation so that those farmers would be guilty of an offence in Canada. They were arrested and charged. Since then, they have had at least four government departments, including the justice department, the CCRA, the RCMP and the Canadian Wheat Board, all working together to humiliate them. On November 1, these farmers will be jailed for from 23 to 125 days if they do not pay their fines. What kind of a system do we have here? We have farmers trapped, in six years of hell, trapped in a non-responsive judicial system, for taking a bushel of wheat across the border.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills October 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton--Strathcona. We are back again and it reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have a quick response to a couple of things that the previous member had to say. I found it interesting that he would be concerned about the expense that it would cost to bring a bill back to the House. We have heard regularly that the government has no qualms about spending a lot of money on its friends, contracts for friends and neighbours.

It spent $100 million on jets out of the blue that it was told it did not need. The bureaucrats told it that it should not be buying them. It went ahead and bought them anyway. The member talks about the expense of bringing one bill back to the House and how it is such a tremendous concern to him. I hope he takes that concern with him to the caucus meetings on Wednesday and mentions to members of his caucus that it is an important thing that they manage their money well.

If the government could do business competently and in a proper way, we would not be here today discussing this issue. If these bills were important, they would have been passed in the last session. We would not have had the prorogation to get the attention of the media back to the Prime Minister and his legacy.

There are two bills today that I want to talk about that we find particularly onerous. They are Bill C-15 and Bill C-5.

The first one is Bill C-5, the species at risk bill. We have talked a lot about the bill in the House before. It is going to be a complete and total failure. I want to talk about a couple of the reasons why the bill should be allowed to die.

First, there is no faith in the bill at all. How many times has this legislation come back to the House? Three or four times. Why not let the bill die? We can do it one more time and this time we will do it right. If the government would take the opposition's amendments seriously, we could create a bill that would be good for landowners, for the environment and the environmentalists. The only one that it might not be good for would be the minister because he would have to admit that he has made a tremendous mistake in his presentation of Bill C-5.

This bill was brought to committee. It had 127-odd witnesses. The committee made 300 amendments to the bill and sent it back to the minister. He gutted it and sent it back to the House. Basically all the time and effort that the committee had put into the bill was irrelevant. Who can treat it seriously other than the minister in charge of the bill?

Second, the bill has no fundamentals that would make it work. It assumes that government knows best. There are a lot of us who believe that government is more part of the problem than it is part of the solution to the environmental problems that we have. It assumes, and I really take offence to this, is that rural people are a negative, evil influence in the environment. That is an insult and hard to comprehend. It bothers those of us who have a rural background or come from rural areas.

Finally, it assumes that local people, unless they are aboriginal, should not have a say in environmental legislation that touches their part of the world. This puzzled me the most when I read the legislation. What is it that the government is afraid of that local people could bring to the bill that it does not want in it? The cost to local people has not been considered.

The basis of all legislation is that we are trying to make a change in a particular area. One of the things we need to look at is how it would affect the people in that area and how it would affect the places that it impacts. Is it not reasonable to expect that a bill would address the socioeconomic impact before it is made law? This legislation does not do that.

We tried to bring in some amendments that would address that. The government refused to pass them. Why was that? Why did the government refuse to pass those amendments? I have one answer to that. It is because it did not have a clue how much the bill would cost Canadians. I have some evidence to back that up. The minister had an information supplement put out about a year ago. He wrote:

Environment Canada is aware that compensation for restrictions on the use of land is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and innovative thinking. We will need several years of practical experience in implementing the stewardship and recovery provisions of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) before we can be precise in prescribing eligibility and thresholds for compensation.

In other words, we will experiment on Canadians and Canadian business, but we do not have a clue as to what it would cost. The minister admitted that in October of last year when he said:

We then got deeper and deeper into this and it became more and more of the proverbial swamp, more and more difficult to do partly because, of course, governments should not pass legislation which is open-ended in terms of funding. We have fiscal responsibilities which, as you can well imagine, are fairly strict on us. Forty-five million a year is what we've been given to run the process and that's what we can expect and that's it.

The minister was admitting that he does not know the cost, that he does not know the implications. He is pretty sure it will be more than $45 million a year, but how much more? We have no way of knowing. He has produced no studies. He has not given us idea of what that cost would be. The minister will not pay for it, but he has no problems with other people absorbing the cost.

An even a bigger concern than this is a letter that was sent from Minister of Fisheries and Oceans which really is unbelievable. It was sent to the member for Wascana, who at the time was the chair of the Cabinet Committee for the Economic Union. The fisheries minister stated in his letter:

On the issue of compensation, I join others who may be concerned about both the precedent-setting nature of the legislation, and the potential costs of providing it. Removing compensation from C-5 altogether would be the ideal case from my point of view--

We begin to see that the government has no interest in providing compensation to people. He continued:

--but this is unlikely given the expectations of resource users. The proposed approach that would see compensation provided on a case by case basis, without a detailed policy or regulatory regime, restricts application of compensation provisions to the minimum and is acceptable to me--

That sounds almost like one could give one's friends more money than one's enemies, does it not? There is really nothing in there to give any consistency to the application of the legislation.

I would like to address one of the other issues that the last government member spoke about. That is the fact that there is no compensation in this legislation. He left the impression, as other government members have, that there is compensation in the bill. Actually all the bill does is require the government to set up regulations about compensation. The bill does not require the government to provide it in any way.

We heard many times from members on the government side that they had concerns with this. The chair of the rural caucus, for example, the member for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, said that he had problems with this, but when it came time to vote he was only too happy to vote along with his colleagues, the other rural Liberal MPs, and support the government. The government promised compensation. The members were saying that it was going to supply it, but it failed to provide it and we have not heard anything from them since.

Hopefully this will be one last chance. Maybe they will take up the issue and put compensation in the bill where it should be. I doubt that will happen but we challenge them to do that. This legislation could have had a very positive impact. The government has not considered that at all.

The biggest concern I have about the legislation in Bill C-15B is that it continues this government's way of fracturing our country and our people. The government's ongoing attempts to fracture the country are shown in a number of areas. It has gone on for many years. We have seen it over the multiculturalism policies that it has pursued. We have seen it in the bilingualism issue. The government pursued that and now has revived it. It is determined to make that an issue again within the country after so many of us had thought that we had reached a resolution on it and a solution that people were satisfied with.

The government has been notorious for trying to divide and conquer. It has happened in many different areas, in things like subsidizing favoured industries and not others. Bill C-68 was mentioned earlier. It has been an extremely divisive bill, a piece of legislation that the government will not revoke. The species at risk act is another one of those examples. Kyoto is going to be another example that will divide the country in half. I challenge the government. I would like to know: Has it done any studies on the impact of Kyoto and agriculture? We do not believe it has. We would like to see it do that before it steps forward and ratifies this protocol.

The agricultural policy framework is another agricultural-rural initiative that has been developed basically in secret. It left farmers, particularly western farmers, out in the cold. The Canadian Wheat Board is another issue. We have some farmers who are actually going to jail in less than three weeks because they dared to take one bushel of wheat across the border and donate it to a 4-H club. The government is going to lock them up for from 25 to 125 days. It is ridiculous. It is happening in this country. It is the fault of the government. It can fix this. It can change this but it is not willing to.

The government has deliberately pitted rural Canada against the rest of the country. The legislation that we heard about, Bill C-15B in particular but also Bill C-5, only benefits a certain number of people: special interest groups, consultants and lawyers, not people who are primarily involved with rural issues and/or with animal rights. This is coercive legislation that has been forced on Canadians. I am challenging the rural caucus members in the Liberal government to stand up and show a little bit of backbone this time around. They have one last chance to stop the legislation, to make it into decent legislation. I would encourage and challenge them to do that. I guess my expectations are not very high but hopefully they will take up that challenge and do the right thing.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 3rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question similar to this earlier but because of time restraints I was not able to get an answer.

Farmers in western Canada face a tough situation. They got their crop off this fall or are in the middle of getting it off. Prices have gone up. American producers and some of the farm organizations have begun to launch another trade action against Canadian farmers.

We will see toward the end of this week a decision as to whether that trade action can go to the ITC or not. Within the next month the ITC will be able to make a decision as to whether to put tariffs and restrictions on Canadian wheat. Those restrictions could go up between 35% to 40% which would basically shut down any Canadian exports into the United States. We have also seen how the government was totally unprepared to deal with the softwood lumber issue.

Would my colleague have any advice for the government as it seems to be unprepared and unwilling to deal with this issue in terms of agriculture as well? It looks like we will have an other trade failure on our hands. I would be interested to hear my colleague's position on that.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 3rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I was going to talk about a different issue, and I may get to it, but I guess I am disturbed by the comment the member made about the disability tax credit program.

I agree with my colleague from the NDP, which does not happen very often, but this has been brutal thing for many people to go through. I know examples of people who have been denied that tax credit who will not recover and will not be able to function fully in our society. That is not fair.

As the government goes through this process it needs to be careful in what it is doing, as my hon. colleague said, to the most vulnerable in our society.

I also want to bring up another issue. Softwood lumber has been a big issue in our country over the last year. The only comment made about agriculture in the throne speech had to do with the fact that the government was going to look at trade action regarding softwood and agricultural issues.

I do not know if my colleague knows this, but the North Dakota wheat growers and other organizations are beginning to pursue a trade action against western Canadian farmers. By the end of this week they will be able to make a decision as to whether that action is going to the international trade commission. By November 4 they will be in the situation where they may be able to put sanctions and tariffs of up to 35% to 40% against western Canadian wheat.

The government was not prepared to deal with softwood lumber. It is not prepared to deal with this issue of wheat. Now that my colleague knows about this, what is he prepared to do? Will he work with us and western Canadian farmers to deal with another trade issue that is exploding and one with which government is unprepared to deal?