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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

Request for Emergency Debate May 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, my application for an emergency debate made under Standing Order 52 concerns an important and urgent matter affecting the agriculture industry.

For the second consecutive year most farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta and many other areas of Canada will confront the effects of another drought. All indications point toward another hard summer for prairie producers.

Throughout the winter and spring the prairies received very little precipitation. Spring runoff levels are in some areas non-existent. The South Saskatchewan river should be teeming with water right now but because of low water levels it looks more like a creek.

Our livestock producers are also dreading the summer. They too rely on the land to feed their cattle. Local forage for cattle and other livestock will be very limited. Again, Agriculture Canada is indicating that grass growth on pastures is poor across the prairies. If producers cannot allow their cattle to graze on local pastures, that means they will be forced to either sell cattle, buy feed or ship their animals out.

There is an added concern of an infestation of grasshoppers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Agriculture Canada has listed a portion of my riding as having a very severe risk of a grasshopper outbreak. Three other areas in Alberta have been given this grade. Drought exacerbates this problem.

By allowing this emergency debate, members would 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 which is not working.

This topic needs to be debated now before the summer recess so that improvements and other measures can be put in place as soon as possible.

Petitions May 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition today from the citizens of Consul, Saskatchewan and area. They would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the creation and use of child pornography is condemned by the clear majority of Canadians and that the courts have not applied the current child pornography law in a way which makes it clear that such exploitation of children will always be met with swift punishment.

They call upon parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

Supply May 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, our agriculture producers have succeeded in competing with people for years when there has been massive subsidization in other parts of the world. We have a good group of producers. We can compete if we are given a fair chance to do that.

I would suggest that one of the things we need and one of the ways to take advantage of low prices at the primary product level is that we must begin to value add. We have to start to do that. I know it is developing here in Ontario, primarily because there is freedom within the Ontario wheat board to be able to market one's own grain and develop value added. We need that freedom in western Canada as well in order to begin to move up that chain, to begin to value add, particularly for the crop we grow the most of, which is wheat. We must be able to do something with wheat to bring some value back into our communities.

Supply May 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, we will not solve the issue of global warming here today. I would just like to point out that April was one of the coldest Aprils that we have had for decades, so I do not know if that was a sign of global warming or cooling.

There are a number of questions that the member raised on the WTO challenge issue. We feel that we need to initiate the trade challenges immediately, particularly with country of origin labelling. That will not become mandatory for two years but it has to be done now because those things take that amount of time to work through the system.

Another aspect of that is we have suggested to the government that there be a rapid response team and process put in place for when these trade issues arise. Although it would not necessarily be binding, people would sit down to discuss and sort those things out ahead of time so that they could be worked out. That way these things would not take three to five years to solve.

As the Leader of the Opposition mentioned earlier, we have a concern that the federal government has not been committed to the free trade agreement and is allowing it to not work properly. I would just like to point out that agriculture and softwood are not integral parts of that agreement. That is part of the reason, we would suggest, we are having trouble with these. Maybe we need to include more of these things rather than scrap the agreement.

Supply May 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if I left the wrong impression. I understand the farm bill was discussed in Rhode Island.

Basically we were discussing something after it had happened. The discussion needed to take place several months ago. We knew that country of origin labelling would be in the bill. We knew that new crops, pulses and those kinds of things would be put in the bill. We knew the subsidization would be increased. That discussion needed to take place through last winter and earlier on and it did not take place. We needed that to happen. It did not happen. Now we are stuck with a bill that will have a tremendous impact on this country because we did not let the Americans know it would be a problem up here. Some of them know now. More of them need to know.

Supply May 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, it is a great concern to me as it is to my seatmate for Nanaimo--Cowichan that members opposite do not seem to be interested in this subject at all.

I would like to talk about another failure of the government. It completely failed in informing the U.S. government about the impact of the bill. It is interesting that government members can stand over there now and have a lot to say, but they do not seem to want to listen to anything about agriculture.

The government has not been lobbying the United States. It has not let the United States know what our issues are. For example, months ago bureaucrats from Ottawa decided to announce that we would be attempting to influence the U.S. secretary of agriculture. I do not know if this was done deliberately or if it was a mess up by the bureaucrats, but as soon as a number of Washington senators heard that, they told the agriculture minister not to bother going down there. We are back to moronic bungling in our bureaucracy that keeps us from being effective with our American neighbours. We made one call to the secretary of agriculture and basically have shied away from letting U.S. politicians know what our issues are.

That showed up a couple of weeks ago when a number of MPs went down to the United States and met with some congressmen and representatives. The member for Lethbridge who does a good job was on that trip. They found that American politicians did not know there was an issue. No one up here had bothered to tell them that the U.S. farm bill would cause tremendous problems for Canadian farmers. We need to do a better job in letting our U.S. friends know what is going on. That was not done with the U.S. farm bill. We can say that the Americans do not care, but we also have an obligation to let them know what is going on and what we feel about the situation.

The government also fails to respond to threats in the agricultural area. Its response has basically been nil on all fronts when it comes to agricultural issues.

We were aware that there would be a massive increase in subsidization included in the U.S. farm bill. Our government chose to do nothing. We were aware for the last several months that new crops would be included in the U.S. farm bill. There was no response from our government. We were also aware that country of origin labelling would be brought in and there was no response from our government. This is one issue we could have headed off with a bit of co-operation and a bit of work with the government. The cattle producers and the Canadian Alliance offered solutions months ago that would have prevented the inclusion of country of origin labelling in the farm bill. The government refused to listen.

At the beginning of February the Liberals were warned that their refusal to expand the terminal feedlot protocol would result in the inclusion of country of origin labelling in the farm bill. That terminal feedlot protocol allows the free flow of cattle between U.S. producers and Canadian feedlots. It is currently restricted because Health Canada has concerns over the spread of disease. Research has been done showing that these fears are unfounded. The government would not remove the restrictions, thus the Americans left country of origin labelling in their farm bill.

In response to questions on February 8, the minister of agriculture acknowledged the link between country of origin labelling and the terminal feedlot protocol but he refused to act. In response to a question from the member for Lethbridge his answer was:

Mr. Speaker, there is some connection between the terminal feedlot protocol and the country of origin labelling. I discussed that with Secretary Ann Venamen as recently as 6.15 yesterday afternoon.

If the government had listened to the official opposition, Canada could have prevented the inclusion of mandatory country of origin labelling which will be a huge issue once it comes in. Once again, Liberal delay and indifference to western Canada is threatening Canadian industry and jobs.

A lot of other responses from the government have been lacking as well. I was amused by the public relations exercise conducted last week. We were told we could not get ministers of the crown to go to Saskatchewan to talk to the government and to the prairie provinces. As soon as trouble started here in Ottawa, ministers were all over the country trying to take attention off of what was happening here. The government sent three ministers: the one in charge of softwood lumber, who has been a complete failure on that issue; the one in charge of agriculture, who is in the middle of being a complete failure; and the other was the senior cabinet minister from our province, who has done little or nothing for our province in nine years.

The member for Peterborough commented that the government made a commitment to long term funding in the agriculture policy framework. The reality is that the estimates are down $650 million this year from last year. We need to pay attention to that and realize that if this government comes up with a plan that puts in $650 million, all it is doing is replacing the money it had in the program last year.

In conclusion, I would like to make three suggestions which are suggestions of the Canadian Alliance. First, we need to challenge immediately on the world trade level the new crop inclusion and country of origin labelling. Second, we must begin to compensate the producers and the people who are affected by this international trade damage. Third, we need change on two levels. We need a change in our attitude toward the United States government. We also need to make the necessary changes within the federal departments in order to make agriculture competitive and effective.

Supply May 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to split my time with my seatmate, the member for Nanaimo--Cowichan, who as we all know is one of the most hard working and effective MPs in the House.

Today we are speaking to the opposition motion:

That this House has lost confidence in the government for its failure to persuade the U.S. government to end protectionist policies that are damaging Canada's agriculture and lumber industries and for failing to implement offsetting trade injury measures for those sectors.

Today's debate reminds me of that old saying that failure to plan is a plan to fail. We see failure on a number of levels and we will talk about some of those levels today. We see it in both the agricultural sector and the softwood lumber sector. I will talk about agriculture today for the most part. We see failure on two national levels. We see failure in the United States with the new ineffective and defective farm bill. We see failure here with the ongoing inaction and lack of vision with regard to both of the issues but particularly with regard to agriculture.

We see a failure in the U.S. A year ago as we were working toward the Doha talks, the U.S. was pretending to lead the way. It wanted to have free trade. It wanted to lead into that to reduce subsidization. The Americans took a strong position apparently at those talks. Now we find they are going in a different direction. We may have to look to the Cairns group for the support we need to turn back some of the subsidization which the U.S. is engaging in now.

The Americans have pulled off a new farm bill as basically an attack on their neighbours and friends. I would suggest they are giving us the impression they are free enterprisers but that is a phony impression from what we see in the bill. We can see there are some closet socialists in the United States on their way to a wreck. Apart from the farm bill the Americans are running a $100 billion deficit this year and we all know that cannot continue. Their deficit and their farm bill have been brought about by a lack of vision.

The United States' agricultural subsidization over the years has not saved its rural areas. In a lot of ways it has destroyed its rural economies. In a small town across the border from us a lot of people put their land into the CRP. They let their machinery sit or else they sold it off. When they brought the land back out of that program, they did not have the money to buy new machinery. They did not have the money to get back into farming so they turned the land over to their neighbours and the farms just get bigger and bigger. The massive amount of money that has been spent on the U.S. side has not saved its rural economies.

The bill is a complete failure. We keep hearing there is about $180 billion in the bill but it has been suggested it will be a lot higher than that. It has been suggested it may rise as high as $400 billion U.S. over 10 years.

I would like to quote a couple of U.S. agricultural economists. Daryll Ray is from the University of Tennessee's agriculture policy analysis centre. He has great concerns that they have vastly underestimated the amount of money they are going to spend in the farm bill. The second person who has a concern about this is John Dittrich, who serves as a policy analyst to the American Corn Growers Association. He said in Better Farming :

If ending stocks for program crops remain in the same range or higher, as they have been for the last several years--10% for corn, 7% for soybeans, for example--then the average annual cost of these farm bills could be around $32 billion [U.S.] per year. I think Congress has underestimated both bills' cost by more than $10 billion per year.

That is an almost 50% miscalculation by congress on the cost of the program. This is not a solution. Dittrich also added “These bills maintain and then add to the distress in farm country which means these distresses will accumulate”.

The farm bill will be a complete failure. We not only have failure in the United States though, we have failure here as well. That is the failure to lead in the agricultural sector. In the agriculture department we see once again there is a complete failure and a complete lack of connection with the farm community.

A few weeks ago the assistant deputy minister came to the agriculture committee. One of the questions he was asked--and he had to be asked it a number of times before he would answer it cleanly and clearly--was whether he had a plan to deal with the drought situation. His answer once we got it out of him was that no, they did not have a plan. It is one year into a drought in Saskatchewan and two to three years into a drought in Alberta and the agriculture department does not even realize it is a situation for which it should be planning.

Another $15 million has been spent on the implementation of the new APF and the farmers were basically excluded from the closed door consultations.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act May 24th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand this morning and speak to this important piece of legislation, Bill C-56.

Unfortunately, time after time in the House legislation comes in with little foundation, public support or acceptance. We have seen this with Bill C-68 which turned into such a fiasco for the government. We have seen it with Bill C-5, the species at risk act which the government apparently thinks is a good bill because everyone is angry about it. We have seen it with Bill C-15B which is being pushed by animal rights special interest groups who feel the government owes them something from the last election. We have seen it with Bill C-55, the security legislation which is a power grab that would extend the government's power and particularly the power of ministers. Why do we see so much legislation coming to the House in this way? The main reason is that the government is adrift.

Yesterday we heard the government's talking points on corruption. It continually tries to convince us that only government members know what it is like to respect this institution. Today we are dealing with a bill that has had absolutely no respect from the government and its leaders. The bill was sent to committee. The committee did a massive amount of interesting and good work. The minister took the committee's work, threw it all out and brought a different presentation to the House. This is yet another bill that has been introduced almost in a vacuum.

One reason for this is the government's desire to avoid the discussion we need. There are issues beyond this legislation that have not been adequately discussed. If we passed Bill C-56 much of the responsibility that should be parliament's would be passed on to one more bureaucracy that would be created by the bureaucracy. This would remove any opportunity for parliament to control or discuss what goes on in the field.

I will take a few minutes this morning to speak to a crucial issue and ask a couple of questions. First, what is human life and how do we treat it? How do we deal with human life? There are people who say we have talked about this enough and do not need to talk about it any more. There are others who think it is foolish to speak about it. However we need to have a discussion in Canada about what human life is and how to treat it and deal with it.

There are a number of places we can go for the discussion. Ethicists deal with these issues on a daily basis. It is their life's work. There are scientists who are deal with the issues. We need to talk with them. We need to go to historians to look back in history and see what has happened with issues of life and death. It is legitimate to talk with the different faith communities of our country because their focus is on issues of life and death. We should not cut them off from the discussion.

We need to involve political leaders. We were sent here for a reason, and that is to have this discussion. We need to go to regular people and get their opinions as my hon. colleague from Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke did so well. In the last few minutes she read a number of the comments she got from her survey. We also need to go to business participants because there is a business component to the legislation that needs to be discussed.

Bill C-56 comments on what human life is and how we should treat it. I will go through a couple of the bill's definitions. Under Bill C-56 an embryo:

--means a human organism during the first 56 days of its development--

Interestingly, a fetus under the bill:

--means a human organism during the period of its development beginning on the fifty-seventh day following fertilization or creation...and ending at birth.

The definitions in the bill indicate that the government is willing to consider the embryo and the fetus as human organisms. I will continue the definition along its logical path: Perhaps a baby means a human organism during the period of development from birth to two or three years; a child means a human organism during the period of development from three years to 18 years; and an adult means a human organism during the period of development from 18 years to natural death. All we are talking about are different stages of development of the same human organism.

Does the human organism consist only of biological material that we can deal with as we choose, or is there something unique about it? Scientists and sociologists can take us apart and show us piece by piece that we are similar to animals. We have physical systems that function similarly. Because of that, research is done on animals that we can apply and use when dealing with human situations and illnesses.

Many throughout history have argued and understood that the total of what constitutes a human organism is far more than the sum of its individual parts. Most successful cultures and civilizations have believed men and women to be unique. Many religious systems have been predicated on the assumption. Many scientific discoveries have come from the hypothesis.

We need to have a discussion about the issue because we are not only setting the stage for a bill. We are talking about legislating attitudes toward human beings in our society. The conclusion we reach in the House about the issue will have great consequences for Canadian society and culture.

Throughout the last century we saw what happened when governments decided individual human beings were not unique and were only basic economic units. In university I was bombarded for three years with Mr. Marx's political theory which states that all events can be analyzed from an economic perspective and that human beings fit into the same analysis.

We have seen Marx's theory lived out under socialist governments throughout the last century and in this century. There has been more brutality under such systems than under any other. Let us look at Mr. Stalin. To gain control of a segment of his economic society he completely destroyed the middle class agricultural community by starving it to death. The individuals in that society were worth nothing to him because he needed to achieve an economic goal.

We have seen this in China which continues to persecute people and deny human rights. The individual means nothing under China's system as it tries to keep its economic structure moving along. We have see it in Sudan where war is being waged against individuals for the sake of profit. When weak positions are taken regarding human uniqueness, individuality and creativity there is a loss of compassion for other people.

We are not immune to this. The Liberal government has refused to deal with a number of issues involving the value of human life. About six weeks ago several MPs had the privilege of meeting with a number of police officers, customs officials and others who deal with the issue of child pornography. These people are fed up with the government's attitude and its refusal to deal with the issue. Anyone who has seen such material and understands what is going on in the lives of those children knows something needs to be done immediately. Yet the government insists on doing nothing. It has failed to move. Child pornography is repugnant and abhorrent. The Liberal government's failure to deal with the issue touches the heart of how it views its citizens.

There are a couple of other questions we need to deal with and talk about. We need to look at the idea of when human life begins. Our present law says human life begins at birth. This is nonsense. It is ridiculous from a number of perspectives, particularly a scientific perspective. The beginning of human life is at conception when the union of genetic material occurs and completion of the DNA package takes place.

Science has thrown a red herring into the whole discussion by arbitrarily choosing a number, day 14, as the point where the embryo becomes something more than it was on day 13. They want to be able to continue experimentation during the first 13 days so they suggest something happens on the 14th day that makes the embryo a different being. That is not the case.

Scientists have failed to address the issue of when life begins. They run the risk of disqualifying themselves by not dealing honestly with the issue. As we heard earlier this morning, for many of them the issue has become an opportunity to make a quick buck. It has become an economic decision rather than a scientific or ethical one.

My time is winding down. We will be addressing a number of other issues when the bill comes back to parliament. I will talk later about what human life is worth. We talked a bit about whether it is unique and when it begins. However what is it worth? Parliament needs to look at what we consider to be the value of human beings in our culture.

There are two interesting and ironic business realities in the legislation. Under Bill C-56 surrogate mothers would be paid absolutely nothing. They would not be allowed to make money from their commitment to surrogacy. On the other hand, companies in Canada would be allowed to make millions of dollars from research.

Supply May 23rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I hope members will allow me to finish.

In any case, we see situations like that. It is good that the opposition is bringing them forward now, so that the public is aware of them as well.

Supply May 23rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member wants me to go into this but I would suggest that the issue we have been talking about all day today and in question period would be one of those situations where things were going on behind the scenes which people were not aware of. They never would have been brought into the public's eye unless the opposition had brought them up. We see people getting special favours, spending weekends--