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

Canadian Wheat Board February 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general tells us what western Canadian farmers already know and that is that the Canadian Wheat Board has serious management problems in its board of directors: it has performance problems; it has planning problems; and it has poor information management. If this happened in a business, heads would roll and changes would take place.

The minister responsible for the wheat board has had the report for some time. What is he doing to address, as the auditor general so delicately put it, “the significant deficiencies” found in the management systems and practices of the Canadian Wheat Board?

Canadian Wheat Board February 27th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General of Canada completed a one time audit of the Canadian Wheat Board. In her report she makes several recommendations that must not fall upon deaf ears.

However she was not permitted to examine all Canadian Wheat Board activities. Her audit was limited to the study of management practices. The auditor general was not permitted to examine the cost of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly to farmers or the role and mandate of the board.

When will the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board commit to allowing the auditor general to conduct regular and full audits of the Canadian Wheat Board in order to allow western Canadian farmers to know how much the system is costing them?

In Ontario the wheat producers have been required to market their grain through the Ontario Wheat Board. However in the last few years Ontario farmers have been allowed to market 20% of their own grain crop. Soon Ontario farmers will be allowed to market a third of their own crop outside of the board and eventually they will be allowed to market their entire production.

When will the minister, who is supposed to be representing western Canadian interests, give western Canadian farmers the same opportunity?

Species at Risk Act February 26th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I would think the member, who seems to be concerned about rural development, would be interested in hearing about this but perhaps he is not.

Yesterday the Prime Minister actually had the arrogance to suggest that United States senators were afraid of our agriculture minister and that was why he was sending him down instead of going himself. We will see from the results exactly how terrified they are of us.

One of the main concerns I have about the government is that I see so many Liberal members who have lost their spirit and are whipped on legislation like this. We have seen a lot work go into the legislation over the last few months. It came to the House, the government gutted it and the minister presented what he wants as his membership. We have heard from very few government members who have the guts to stand up and say what they actually think about the legislation. We know there are dozens of them who are concerned about it. I would call upon them to step forward, take their places at the plate and call this legislation what it is, which is bad legislation.

As always, we know that the government's reason for being is to expand wherever it possibly can. It certainly is doing so through this legislation. In the past, bureaucracies have used issues like multiculturalism and national issues to stir people up and expand the bureaucracy. We have seen that through the CRTC over the years in many of the broadcasting regulations and fiascos there.

Normally what the government does is it takes the flavour of the day, mixes in a slug of bureaucracy, stirs it with some regulations and it usually ends up with a bad odour that permeates all of Canadian society. We see that once again here using environmentalism. It is taking environmental issues, wrapping them up in urgency, and then wrestling control from the local people who understand the issues and are the ones who could solve the problems, and giving it to people 2,000 miles away. It takes control away from people who need to have it.

Not only is the government without direction but Bill C-5 is definitely without direction as well. As the member for Yellowhead so accurately pointed out yesterday, rarely do we get legislation that is lose-lose. It is a loss for those who are affected by the legislation and it is also a loss for those who will be trying to administer it.

I want to give some suggestions this afternoon as to why the legislation is such a failure.

First, no one has faith in it. How many times have we seen this legislation come forward in the last seven years? We have seen it three or four times and it has failed completely. When it was brought in this time it went to committee. I understand 127 witnesses addressed the committee and 300-plus amendments were presented. The committee worked its way through the whole bill only to have it come back to the House where the minister took it apart and presented what he wanted in the first place.

Why do we bother? Why make such a mockery of the process? Why not just introduce it that way in the beginning and ram it through, as the government seems so set on doing? Who can treat the bill seriously with the minister treating it the way he has chosen to?

I would suggest that one of the other reasons the bill will fail is that there are no fundamentals to it that would make it a success. First, we deal with the assumption that the government knows best. I know it is not very popular in the House but there are some of us who believe that government is probably more of the problem than it is the solution to many of these issues. I would suggest that in this issue it is true.

The second assumption that the legislation makes, which is appalling, is that rural people are either a negative or an evil influence on the environment in which they live. I find that an insult. It is hard to comprehend. Many of us live in areas where our families have lived for a hundred years. The areas are no worse off. In fact they are far better off now than they were years ago.

The bill also makes the assumption that local people should not have a say. This puzzled me the most when I looked through the legislation. What is the government afraid of from the local people who are affected by the legislation?

Strangely, the cost to local people is not considered at all in the legislation. This is the area I want to address. The basis of legislation we make is usually to know how it will affect the people it is intended to affect. It is reasonable to expect that we would address the socioeconomic aspect and impact in the legislation. Surprisingly, the bill does not do that until right at the final process of looking at recovery plans.

The CA introduced an amendment to ensure that would take place and the committee, in its wisdom, agreed to the amendment. However, the government has now taken it out.

Why did the government do such a thing? I will read quotes from the minister that will explain why it chose to do this. The main reason is that it has absolutely no idea what the socioeconomic implications of the legislation will be. I will read from the minister's information supplement of October 2001:

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...before we can be precise in prescribing eligibility and thresholds for compensation

What are the people who are affected supposed to do for those several years?

At the standing committee on October 3 he was quoted as saying:

We then got deeper and deeper into this and it became more and more the proverbial swamp, more and more difficult to do, partly because governments...should not pass legislation that is open-ended in terms of funding. We have fiscal responsibilities that, as you can well imagine, are fairly strict on us—$45 million a year is what we've been given to run the process. That's what we can expect, and that's it.

My question is: Does that include the administration of the act, as well as dealing with the compensation issues for which people will have to be compensated?

The legislation will also be very expensive.

I would like to point out that the legislation could have had a positive socioeconomic impact, although the government has not considered that. Many other places, such as the United States, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, all have private conservation programs. We have a tremendous opportunity for co-operation and for private conservation programs that we have not taken.

In conclusion I suggest that the bill has no future. It is based on coercion. We already have one example of a bill that was based on coercion, Bill C-68, which is now costing us nearly a billion dollars and has not accomplished anything that it was set out to do.

I ask once again why the bill targets rural Canadians. The blizzard in Cypress Hills eventually ended and we were able to travel, but I would suggest that if the government does not withdraw this legislation the storm is only beginning.

Species at Risk Act February 26th, 2002

Absolutely, Madam Speaker. I will talk about the socioeconomic impacts of the legislation in a minute, as soon as I have finished talking about some of the reasons why the government comes up with such poor legislation and why the Alliance and the other parties have to hold it accountable.

The second reason we have legislation like this, I would suggest, is incompetence. We see ministers who apparently cannot tell Monday from Friday when they are discussing their portfolios. We see a billion dollars at a time disappearing through different divisions such as HRDC. We have ministers who can only imagine things happening in Canadian communities. We also have ministers who are so unsure of where they live and do their work that they do not even know where to vote.

The third reason we see legislation like this is, I would suggest, arrogance. We see it in the $2 billion infrastructure slush fund to be set up and administered.

As a person who is interested in agriculture, I found it interesting yesterday that the Prime Minister would let us know--

Species at Risk Act February 26th, 2002

Absolutely. It is in a heavy fog for a number of reasons.

I would suggest that first it is partially because it is wallowing in corruption. We see that the Prime Minister does his legal work on a table napkin. We understand that ministers regularly look for jobs for their friends--

Species at Risk Act February 26th, 2002

Madam Speaker, a few years ago as I was travelling from Maple Creek to my home in Frontier, I crossed the top of the Cypress Hills just as a blizzard hit. The wind was blowing from the west, snow was drifting and visibility eventually became absolutely zero. The only way we could see was to put our heads out of the window and watch the yellow dots on the highway go by. When the dot looked faded, because in Saskatchewan the highways are not that great and a lot of times there is no paint in places, we wandered all over the highway. We actually hit the ditch a couple of times, but because we had four wheel drive we were able to back out of the ditch and keep on down the highway. It took us about 2 hours to go 15 miles that night.

It strikes me that the government is every bit as confused and lost as we were that night, particularly in dealing with this legislation. I guess it is no wonder that the government comes up with legislation like this. I would like to suggest today that--

2002 Winter Olympics February 25th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to all our Olympic athletes who just competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All told, Canadian athletes are returning home with a record 17 medals. I would especially like to congratulate the Canadian women's hockey team and the men's hockey team, both of which won gold medals for Canada.

Our men's hockey team has waited 50 years to confirm what we already know, that we are number one at hockey. The women's team beat the Americans when it counted, in the gold medal final of the Olympic Games.

Our athletes dedicate hours upon hours to training and practice and in return they get the satisfaction of knowing they are the best. Hayley Wickenheiser, who grew up in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan in my riding, has not only proven herself as a worldclass athlete and tournament MVP but also as a role model for young Canadian athletes.

We only expected our athletes to do their best and from that we simply got the best. I congratulate all Canadian medal winning athletes. They have made us proud.

Species at Risk Act February 25th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am beginning to wonder, after a year and a half in this House, if the Liberal government's motto is “If a job is worth doing it is worth doing poorly”. I came here with an interest in this job when the electors of Cypress Hills--Grasslands showed their wisdom by electing me. I came expecting that there would be serious debate in the House, that there would be a give and take of ideas, that there would be a merging and a rejection of those ideas and that decisions would be based on well-informed debate and well-informed bias. To be honest, I saw some of this happen in the Standing Committee on Environment ans Sustainable development when I was allowed to sit in on some of the sessions.

The minister, on the other hand, has destroyed this entire process. I believe that at some point he should be held accountable for disregard of the parliamentary process regarding this bill.

I have a great concern about a bill that goes through committee, where some people got what they wanted and others did not, and then have it hijacked by a minister who has his own special agenda. I am disappointed that I do not hear more government members speaking out about that as well. I know there are a great number of them who have a big concern about what has happened with the bill. I suggest that perhaps the minister's motto will be “I started out with nothing and I still have most of that left”.

I will speak today on the Group No. 2 motions and two issues of importance in those motions. First, it is that of the federal government taking upon itself the power to override provincial legislation and agreements.

The government has become a bully. We see that in several areas. We have seen it in the area of health. We are beginning to see it in the area of agriculture and its new farm plan. I believe that we will see it in the area of the environment. The government has been bullying provinces. It is beginning to bully rural municipalities. It is beginning as well to bully landowners.

Is it possible for us to cooperate? I will take a look at the history. We have heard a bit about the Department of Fisheries and Oceans today. It has moved in the last couple of years into the prairie provinces. There will to be a fair amount of money spent by DFO in the prairie provinces. The government is talking about putting in five fisheries centres with thirty biologists at each centre. Therefore Saskatchewan will have the privilege of having 60 fisheries biologists in its province which it has never had before even though the provincial environment ministry has been managing the fishery reasonably well.

How does it work with DFO coming in? We have heard the members from Selkirk--Interlake and Provencher talk about Manitoba and how there have been problems with drainage ditches. The RMs have ongoing concerns and regular confrontations with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We have heard DFO costing RMs and cities up to $200,000 extra to construct flood dikes.

In Alberta DFO began to go after the drainage ditches that were built for irrigation until the Alberta government told it to go to wherever.

We heard from the member for Souris--Moose Mountain that DFO had been billing RMs in Saskatchewan for studies that they did not even know were being done. Therefore we have an ongoing problem with DFO

Perhaps there is something more than just a grab for control. We know Alberta has done very well with one of its natural resources, namely oil. It has been able to become a powerhouse within Canada. A couple of weeks ago one of the senior bureaucrats declared that Newfoundland would not be allowed to become another Alberta.

Another resource that is at stake, and which is just as important as oil, is water. I am starting to wonder if this whole environmental issue focused around Bill C-5 and some of the DFO activity is less a concern about environmentalism than a concern about control over waters that are within provincial boundaries which are supposed to be under provincial jurisdiction.

The bullying, coercion and a lack of co-operation that we see will just lead us to one place. As far as the provinces are concerned it will be in court. We will see the federal government in court against the provincial governments, the provincial governments taking the federal government to court and at the bottom of the pile both levels of government hammering the landowner with his own tax money. That lack of co-operation is unacceptable and the bill will not work.

My second concern in the Group No. 2 amendments is in the area of criminal liability.

I want to paint a bit of a picture of farmers in my area. We have burrowing owls in my area. People go out in the spring with machinery and have a 50:50 chance of seeding their land. We have lots of gophers when the crop begins to come up. Gophers start digging their holes in the crop land. Badgers come along and they are only too happy to chase the gophers down the holes. Later the burrowing owls come to nest in the holes in our area of the world.

At harvest time we come along with the combines and cut the crop off the top, take our crops and people go home. The question that has to be asked is if this disturbs the owl's habitat. If it does, I guess the farmer can expect that the feds will show up at some point at his door and conceivably he could be charged.

The should have known principle in the bill is something that is new after hundreds of years of criminal law. What are the consequences of breaking the should have known law? In the bill the penalties are $250,000 and up to five years in jail. That is enough to destroy virtually any landowner or any farmer and put him completely out of business. If he cannot prove due diligence, he can be charged and fined.

The bill basically ignores one of the tenets of western legal history and that is that criminal penalties are only given for offences committed with a criminal mind. It is known as mens rea; that is a person knowing he or she is breaking the law. That is why one can be charged and held accountable.

It is interesting that the minister actually had a concern about this. In his presentation of October 3, 2001, he said:

It's a legitimate matter for concern. The accident, the unwitting is a concern, and we want to give the maximum protection we can to the legitimate and honest person who makes a mistake, who unwittingly does that.

It is interesting that when the bill came back to the House, the minister declined to give people that protection.

The burrowing owl is fairly well known. Farmers can work with that. There are some other species I would like to ask members about. Have they heard of slender mouse-ear-cress? No, I did not think so. How about the hairy prairie-clover? The burrowing owl we are all familiar with. The sand verbena might be a plant that is new to everyone. I am sure members know of the western spiderwort and the tiny cryptanthe.

The piping plover may be one we are a little more familiar. These are all species that in my riding have been declared as threatened or endangered. Interestingly enough, all of them are already covered by section 5 of the Wildlife Act. Everyone of them is already protected.

This legislation is wrong. It punishes rural Canadians in particular. It cannot succeed if the government will not work with rural people.

We all acknowledge that the government's main role is to provide security and protection for its citizens. Why does the government continue to punish rural Canada?

I have a little story with which I will finish. An agricultural salesman showed up at a farmer's farm yard one day. He saw that the farmer had a pet pig, but the pig had one wooden leg. The farmer said the pig went everywhere with him and the salesman asked “What happened to the pig?” The farmer said “Let me tell you what a hero the pig is”. He said that he was working near the edge of the road by a muddy slew and one day his tractor slipped off the road. It tipped over and pinned him underneath. He could not do anything so he told the pig to go get a board, to bring it over, balance it on a rock, slide it under the tire and to sit on the end of it. When the pig sat on the end of it, the tractor lifted up enough and he was able to get out. The pig saved his life. The salesman asked how the pig got the wooden leg.

The farmer said he would tell him another story. The pig slept in the living room. One night he smelled smoke. Sure enough, the house was on fire. The pig ran upstairs, woke him and his wife up, and they and the four kids got out before the house burned down. Again, he saved his life as well as the lives of the rest of his family. The agricultural salesman said that the pig certainly was a hero but he still wanted to know how he got his wooden leg. The farmer said “Well, with a pig like that you don't want to eat it all at once”.

That is what the government is doing to rural Canada. It is slowly killing it off, one leg at a time.

Agriculture February 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate Food Freedom Day. Food Freedom Day is a calendar date representing when Canadians have earned enough income to pay the entire year's food bill. This is that day. Unfortunately it is not farmer freedom day. Under the government, while it takes six months to pay our tax bill and it takes 39 days to pay our food bill it takes only nine days for the farmer to be paid for his contribution to the Canadian food supply.

Farmers continue to be held back by the Liberal government with its outdated farm plans, its stifling regulatory control and its constant failure to respond to income crises. Farmers have little freedom, particularly western Canadian grain farmers held captive and held back by the Canadian Wheat Board. Today we should be thankful for the low cost of food in this country but should take a minute to consider those who are paying the price so that we can have cheap food.

We should never, ever cuss a farmer with our mouths full.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001 February 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, last July we were blessed with the Whitehorse accord dealing with agriculture. The agriculture minister came out with a five year plan. He did not tell us at the time that it would take five years to develop. When the ministers next meet we will be one year into that plan. We have no details and no agreement between the provinces. We have no new money for that plan.

It is interesting that while the federal government gave less than a billion dollars in aid to agriculture, it ran through a $2 billion slush fund without hardly saying a word. How do farmers get help from a government that is far more concerned about public relations than it is about actually helping farmers put substance into this plan?