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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

Supply May 23rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, when I am asked about this job and the fact that I have it, I tell people that it is a privilege. I say, as other people have done today, that there are 301 of us who have the privilege to do this job and to have this position in the country. I am glad that I have that opportunity.

I do not consider the House to be corrupt. However I used this illustration before. If we have an oil leak and it is gradually polluting everything around it. At some point we have to fix that. I would argue that the attitude of the government has become the oil leak that sprays around the inside of the House. At some point we need to repair that leak or it will bring this House into disrepute.

It is not the opposition's problem that we brought these things to the attention of the public. The government needs to respond in ways that will correct that situation and not leave things the same way. The Canadian people perceive that there are problems here because there are problems. Those need to be fixed.

I would suggest that individuals members, such as the one across the way, need to take the initiative within their caucus and within the leadership of that party to say that there are some things that need to change because the Canadian people deserve better. If not, we expect that the Canadian people will choose next time to put a different government in place.

Supply May 23rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Selkirk--Interlake.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to get my name on the Speaker's list for today. As I started thinking about putting a speech together I wondered why I would even do this. It is as upsetting to me as it is to many other members, that we are today having to discuss this topic.

I started thinking about why it was bothering me and I thought back to an analogy from being on the farm. A couple of years ago we had a combine with a very slow hydraulic leak. A high pressure line was leaking. It was spraying a little oil consistently onto the inside and under the covers of the combine. Over the first day or so there was just a little oil but as we went more oil and more dirt attached to it. Eventually the chaff built up. We ended up with a situation where not only was it filthy but it was dangerous.

I could not help but think that we have a situation something like that. With the combine we could not get close to it without getting dirty. It seemed like we did not even have to touch anything and we had chaff and oil all over our clothes and ourselves.

I guess I was thinking that we needed to fix the oil leak on the combine or we could never clean it up. It is the same with the situation we are talking about today and the problems with the government. There is an oil leak that needs to be fixed. It starts off spraying very quietly and gently. It does not seem to be make a big difference but over time it adds up to an awful lot of oil and dirt.

This afternoon the member from Mississauga in particular, but the previous member also, spoke about us having disrespect for the House if we questioned anything that went on here. I would argue that if we are going to see our way through to having a healthy machine, we need to fix the problems we have. We need to fix the leak.

There are a number of things that we need to examine. We can look at some of the examples like the $40 million in unsupervised sponsorship money, the advertising contracts, ministers getting personal favours, quiet deals being made on the side and those kinds of things.

I grew up in western Canada. As a young person John Diefenbaker was one of the main politicians in our area of the world. He was a person of perseverance. It took him many times to get elected to the House and he was very successful with that. He was a popular person. When one talks to a lot of people in Saskatchewan, virtually everyone of them is sure that they met him at some time or another and talked to him. He was very popular. Eventually his career was brought to an end by some of the machinations that happened in Ottawa.

The prime minister who followed him was Mr. Pearson. It was the beginning of a long list of Liberal prime ministers who really had no connection with western Canada. Mr. Pearson always struck me as being someone who was as bland as beige paint but he was certainly followed up by someone who was not, Prime Minister Trudeau. In our part of the world I guess he has always been seen as having charisma but no content at all. It is more obvious as time goes on that his influence still guides the Liberal Party. Today we see that he was the architect in a lot of ways of so much that divides and splits the country. I think he was also the architect of a spirit we see permeating the Liberal Party.

He was the gentleman who came out to western Canada and so casually flipped the bird to people who were daring to question some of the things that he had to say. He came out to western Canada another time and asked western Canadian farmers, when they had absolutely no choice but to go through his mandatory marketing system “Why should I sell your wheat?” People wonder why we had little patience for him.

Once he was done, the PCs came to power and again we saw terrible results. Western Canadians rejected that way of doing business. Now we see this government following up on the PCs. It should know better. It should have been able to prevent the things that have happened because it should have seen what happened with the previous government did and avoided it. However it does not seem to have learned from that.

The main reason people in my part of the world do not support the Liberal Party and this government is because they have seen this wasteful foolishness for years. I found a quote by H.L. Mencken, which is an interesting one because it applies. It is part of the government's philosophy and attitude toward the people of Canada. He said “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard”. This government has an attitude like that toward the people of Canada.

I grew up expecting more from government. When I came here I expected more from the Liberal government. I am disappointed and afraid that it seems to be worse than I thought it would be in terms of attitude, arrogance and corruption.

I have to admit that this is a bit of a puzzle to me also because many of the Liberal members seem to be decent people. It seems there is an ethos or a core philosophy of their party that is rotten. It is like a boat floating with no direction. With no solid principles around it, sooner or later it is bound to crash on the shore and that Liberal boat has just hit that shore.

I do not think it is just western Canadians who want higher standards. Canadians as a whole deserve much better.

This has been an interesting day. I guess I would call it a day of justification rather than a day of apology from the government. I kept track of some of the things that had been said today. This morning the PM referred to the HRDC scandal. His explanation for it was that it had some bad housekeeping, some poor administration and some administrative mistakes. That was as far as he would go in admitting that there was a problem with the billion dollar boondoggle. He also said some mistakes had been made but went on to explain that the government had saved Canada in spite of those mistakes. I guess anyone on this side knows that is just rubbish.

Later a PC member, the member for South Shore, made the good point that the government today is making excuses for the inexcusable.

Apparently the Deputy Prime Minister was trying to take the high road a little earlier today but he still did not seem to get his own facts right. He said he knew the red book spoke of an ethics counsellor. We want to see one answerable to parliament as soon as possible. He was also defending his ability to influence the awarding of sponsorship money.

The most interesting thing I heard was the member for Ottawa Centre said that he thought he heard the Prime Minister take responsibility for the standard of conduct in the government. He said that the PM set the standard for the government. I guess that is one comment we would definitely agree with, particularly after seeing Shawinigate and some of the results of that.

He also claimed that the government was build on integrity, openness and accountability. I wonder if it was he who wrote in his last householder that he had been given $1 million for a project in his urban Ottawa riding to address the issues of homeless aboriginal people. I wonder if he would be open to us perhaps looking at that to see what kind of value we are getting for that money? I am from Saskatchewan and that money probably would be very well spent in a place like Regina or Saskatoon where those issues are a major problem. In his quotes he reminded once again that the emptiest barrel seems to make the most noise.

This government's arrogance is longstanding and it shows up in my constituency. I come from an area of rural people. The government does not seem to know us at all but it always seems to know what is best. It seems it is more of the problem not the solution in my part of the world. This goes back years. For example, in the 1990s the Canadian Wheat Board felt that it needed to take issue with some of the farmers who had been hauling grain to the States. All of a sudden it was a big issue.

I found it interesting that the government brought together the RCMP, the justice department, customs and revenue and Canadian Wheat Board officials just to take on ordinary people. Those who are familiar with the situation will know the names of Desrochers, Sawatsky and McMechan. Their homes were raided and they were locked up in jail. Mr. McMechan spent months in jail and was strip searched for having the gall to actually try to haul his grain to the United States.

There are a number of other areas I could talk about. The helicopter fiasco, for instance, has cost us hundreds of millions of dollars. It already could have been done, if the Prime Minister had just admitted that he was wrong and had let that project go ahead.

To wrap up, we do have some suggestions that would work here. One of them is, as we have heard from other members today, that we need an ethics commissioner immediately and we need that person to be responsible and accountable to parliament. We need immediate standards that are public, set for members of cabinet in particular. The Prime Minister thinks it is important to put standards in place for the members of parliament. That may be okay, but it is not the members of parliament who are abusing their position.

Most of us do not have a lot of authority or ability to influence the public in the awarding of contracts or any of those kinds of things.

The government obviously needs to get a vision for the country. It is getting very old and it needs a vision. We need to deal with the attitude of corruption here.

Agriculture May 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the minister of agriculture has said over the last few days that he wants to mitigate the impact of the U.S. farm bill but no farmer in the country has any idea what he means by that statement. Meanwhile, many farmers are still living below the poverty line. The minister's estimates have cut $650 million of support for farmers.

When the minister says mitigate, does that mean he will commit new federal money to grain and oilseed producers, and will he have this money in the hands of farmers this summer?

Agriculture May 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, talk is cheap. What farmers need now is action. In the last few days both houses of the U.S. congress have passed the farm bill. It only needs the president's signature.

Prairie premiers are meeting in an emergency session in Regina today to fight rising U.S. subsidies and protectionism. Canadian farmers and their provincial governments cannot and should not fight this battle on their own as the government continues to neglect them.

Will the minister of agriculture implement a federally funded trade injury protection program immediately?

Supply May 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough is being far too generous to the government. He mentioned earlier that he thought the problems arising in rural Canada were because the government ignored rural Canada, not that it was an intentional thing it was doing.

I want to run through a list of the problems we have in rural Canada. He talked a little about fisheries policies and how destructive they had been in his part of the country. We now have softwood lumber problems at the other end of the country in rural areas.

After all this time we still do not have a cost on Kyoto. This morning we heard that it would be somewhere between $5 billion to $12 billion a year. The government cannot decide which study or which number it should use as it tries to convince Canadians that Kyoto is a good idea.

We are all familiar with the gun law, Bill C-68, which was aimed directly at rural Canadians and drew a target on their backs.

We had a lot of hubbub last week over Bill C-5, the species at risk bill, and the fact that it contains no provisions for compensation. We just have another tired commitment that regulations may be made at some point. It has been very frustrating to hear some of the Liberal rural members try to take credit for making changes in the bill and then to hear them later laughing about the stunt they pulled on the farmers and on the media. That is really reprehensible.

We also have other things. Bill C-15B, the animal cruelty legislation, is also geared toward rural Canadians. Bill C-53, the pest control act, also deals with rural issues. Maybe we could use the pest control act to get rid of the DFO people who have invaded the prairies. These people have come in and said that they will not allow municipalities to put in new culverts unless they get permits from DFO.

Could it be that the government is so incompetent that it is actually doing these things to rural Canada by accident?

Supply May 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, my friend from Regina--Qu'Appelle talked about vision. Perhaps it is because he is getting a little older but his vision seems to be going.

We can talk a little about our party. He knows better than to insult us because he knows full well that we have very strong support in western Canada and for good reason. When we talk about rural Saskatchewan dying, one of the main reasons there are problems in rural Saskatchewan has been his government and the philosophy of the NDP in Saskatchewan.

In the 1930s Saskatchewan was the third most populous province in Canada. Unfortunately that population has been stable for almost seven decades, coinciding with the NDP being fairly strong in our province. We have seen great prosperity across the border. Many of us have had to watch that with dismay. Hopefully we can change that over the next few years. Alberta and Saskatchewan have had similar resources. At one time we had similar populations but we have not been able to experience that same prosperity.

My friend mentioned the Canadian Wheat Board. I was amazed that he would insist we stick with the same antiquated system we have had for decades now. We need prosperity in rural areas. Perhaps one of the reasons he said what he said is that he has a mainly urban riding and does not understand what is going on in rural Saskatchewan.

Within our smaller communities we need value added. We need processing. One of the ways we can do that is to take the product we grow the most and do the best job at it, which is to take wheat and begin to process it. Interestingly enough the pulse industry has grown exponentially in our province partially because it has not had government interference in its development. It has grown 3,000% in the last 10 years.

We need the same thing in our wheat industry. Unfortunately because of the restrictions on western Canadian farmers, we have watched the wheat acreage actually go down in western Canada. Not only is the wheat board a hindrance to farmers but it is actually working against itself by keeping these restrictions on people.

I assume the member supports the provincial NDPs in Saskatchewan. Could he tell us a little about what they have done to counter the aggressive federal Liberal government that has worked to destroy so much of our rural culture in the last 10 years?

Supply May 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I would like to respond to the comments made by the member.

We see little or no response from the government on these trade issues, things like country of origin labelling and the introduction of pulses into the farm bill which were not there before.

I would like the member's opinion on whether we should be pursuing the issue directly at the NAFTA and WTO or, as the government has done with so many other issues, should we just wait until we have a major confrontation before we choose to do anything about the issue.

Supply May 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, as we know, the U.S. farm bill will be passed in the next few weeks. Interestingly enough, the Americans will be throwing another $73 billion into their farm subsidization programs with about $45 billion of that going directly to producers. They have also brought in other onerous provisions which we object to, in particular country of origin labelling on such products as beef.

I live just across the border from Montana. I have found it interesting, as I have watched over the last 10 or 15 years, to see that the massive amounts of money Montana spends on its farm programs does not seem to be restoring its rural areas. Many of the small towns in Montana are in far worse shape than the towns in western Canada. The city of Havre, which is the main trading area south of us, a city of between 10,000 and 15,000 people, has a very difficult time even keeping a mall open.

It is obvious that money is not the only answer to the problems facing rural areas. Does the member have any ideas about how we should go about passing the rural lifestyle, the agricultural land and the farms on to our children in order to preserve our rural lifestyle given that throwing more money at it does not seem to be the total answer?

Supply May 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, the secretary of state suggests that we should not be partisan in these issues dealing with rural items. I found it interesting that he had a project in my riding in the last couple of months. I am sure it was by mistake but the local MP certainly was not invited to that event. The only way I found out about it was because I subscribe to my weekly newspapers. As I looked through the list of participants, I noticed a couple of the only identifiable Liberals left in our provinces were major presenters.

I also found afterward, and again I had to go to the newspapers to see what had happened, as I read the information about the conference that a lot of the solutions very much involved more government in the lives of people instead of less. I am surprised that the government does not go to committee leaders within the constituency and find the successful businessmen. The secretary of state said that 60% of new businesses start up in the rural areas and I have several of them in my riding. They were not the conference or invited to make presentations.

Does the secretary of state not have the resources to find those people? Is he not familiar with them or has he a set agenda that only includes people who come with the solutions that he wants to hear, which usually involve more government and very rarely private initiative?

Agriculture May 2nd, 2002

Madam Speaker, yesterday the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan held an emergency debate to discuss potential U.S. increases in agricultural subsidies. Saskatchewan's minister of agriculture said, “We've played by the rules fully and in Western Canada we've been beat up by playing by the rules.”

The premier said, “This is the time for the national government to come to the aid of Canadian farm families. We have implored the government to help farm families combat foreign agriculture subsidies but to no avail.”

Even the European agriculture commissioner called the bill “a retrograde step that will bring further market distortions” and “create serious difficulties for developing countries.” The farm bill will seriously damage agriculture in Canada.

When will the government start working for Canadian producers? When will the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food along with his colleague in international trade take some action against these unfair subsidies? When will the government finally take action to keep our farmers competitive?