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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

Youth Criminal Justice Act May 29th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how the government members could possibly justify the taxation method that they have in the country. People are overwhelmed by taxes. We talked this afternoon in question period about fuel taxes that are stressing people out.

If we ask the kids in our high schools today if they feel safer than they did a few years ago they would clearly say that they do not. They do not feel that those people who are threatening them are being dealt with in a way that would remove them from the system and keep them safe.

The bill offers discretion in every area. That is just an excuse for people not to put in effective legislation. If we offer discretion in every possible area, then we could say that we have set it up that way, but everyone would know that we do not intend to use it that way. It has just become a bureaucratic mess and it may get worse.

Youth Criminal Justice Act May 29th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, we are here today to talk about the youth criminal justice act. The question I have this afternoon is: Why do we even need the act? The answer is obvious. Youth crime has increased in the country. It is something that touches everyone including the government, and it has finally realized that there is a problem.

We have a Young Offenders Act that has been demonstrated to be clearly inadequate. Since 1993 the government has promised change. The committee on justice and legal affairs held extensive cross country hearings in 1996 and 1997. It presented its report to parliament called “Renewing Youth Justice”.

There was a change of ministers in 1997 and at that time the reform of the act was to be a priority. In 1999 the government finally introduced Bill C-68. It was reintroduced in October 1999 as Bill C-3 and it hung around until the last election. It was revived again this spring. The bill has had a longer life than some of the young people it was supposed to protect.

We expected that when it did come forward it would deal with the issues but it clearly did not. It not only demonstrates a lack of ability to deal with children's issues but it demonstrates the government's inability to address the real issues in the country. It shows the government is out of touch with its people.

The definition of arrogant is having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities. I would add a second half to that definition. It shows a refusal to accept one's responsibility. Arrogance is shown in how the bill has been handled. It has been reintroduced for the third time with a new name. Simply calling something by a different name does not change it.

The Liberal government has refused to apply responsible amendments. It has applied some of its own technical housekeeping amendments, but it would not accept responsible amendments from other parties. They have not even been considered so Bill C-7, which was Bill C-3, which was Bill C-68, is the bill we are discussing today.

First, there is a general refusal in the bill to deal with the issues. There is a refusal to take responsibility for young offenders. The bill does not deal seriously with the youngest offenders. It still leaves children of 10 and 11 years of age to child welfare and social services. We are not suggesting that children of this age should be locked up, but it is essential that they are involved with the justice system to get the help they need.

Some of these kids need a structured solution. In the newspaper in the last few weeks there was a case involving a young person who was so out of control in his community that the community was asking someone to come in and do something.

I have worked with young people for many years and one thing I know is that they need structure. The younger they are, the more important it is to give them a direction which they do not necessarily have. The bill deprives them of that.

Second, there is a refusal in the bill to take responsibility for older offenders. In our previous Young Offenders Act, offenders aged 14 and up could be transferred to adult court for a very limited number of offences. That provision was used very rarely. Bill C-7 would allow for even more latitude in this area. Provinces could essentially opt out of this provision in whole or in part. They could change the provision so that it only applies to 15 or 16 year olds. Some kids need to be in adult court to get access to the services they require.

There is also a refusal in the bill to take responsibility for the communities. In terms of identifying young offenders, Bill C-7 would prevent a limited number of instances where young people could be named to protect their community. The list is restrictive. It does not include all violent or dangerous offenders. It would provide courts with discretion to override the identification of the offender.

We saw last night, in the government's defeat of a good amendment that was presented to it, its lack of commitment to these kids, the communities and the school systems that need to deal with young people. We saw it vote en masse to restrict the provision regarding the naming of young offenders.

I have been involved somewhat with education and with young people. Educators and other people in our schools need to know who these young people are in order to deal fairly and squarely with them.

In Bill C-7 the protection of the public is second to understanding the circumstances and the perpetrator. There is an extensive emphasis on rehabilitation and reintegration. We have already seen the results of that approach in my area.

Regina has been attacked by car thieves for years. Some of these kids have been arrested dozens of times, with little or no consequences for their actions. Where is the deterrence when people can keep going back again and again to the same offences and grow into adults who have little regard for the law?

The protection of the public is not an overriding principle in the legislation. Why should the protection of our communities take second place?

The bill also refuses to take responsibility for crime seriously. People have always been concerned about the three year maximum sentence in the Young Offenders Act. We heard about that often. We heard about extreme circumstances and an extreme crime that took place, and young people were not held accountable for more than the three years maximum sentence.

Bill C-7 would actually reduce the maximum custody period from three years to two years. The maximum is three years but a supervisory period must be included. For most offences we are looking at two years of custody and one year of supervision being the maximum sentence young people can face. One of the main concerns of Canadians about young offenders is being ignored in the bill.

There is also refusal to take responsibility for provincial governments. The government would download the bill on to underfunded provincial governments. At present the cost sharing program is at about 75%, with the provinces paying 75% and the federal government paying 25%. Our position is that the federal government should be paying 50% of that cost.

It is a strange situation when the federal government has responsibility for criminal law but absolutely no obligation to fund the implementation of it. There have been long term shortfalls in financing and there has been a shortage of consultation with the provinces.

There is also a refusal to keep things simple. The bill is extremely complicated. As one member mentioned this morning, the Young Offenders Act has gone from 30 sections to 70 sections, to over 200 clauses in the current bill.

The bill sets up rules. It sets up procedures. It sets up exceptions to the same rules. The court may or may not name offenders and adult sentencing may or may not be imposed. Many of these things are left to the court's discretion. It is so complicated that there were problems in trying to define a violent act or a serious violent offence.

I have worked with kids, as I mentioned before, but the real problem is not with youth crime. It is policy that destroys families. Every one of us would recognize that the family is the foundation of society. We need strong families if we are to have stable young children.

We have many government policies that cause community and family breakdowns and family stress. We have parents who want to be at home when their kids get home from school. They want to be at home when their kids leave in the morning. However they are not able to be because of their financial situation brought about by government policies. There are families that cannot keep up in the world unless both parents work.

There are some things that need to be done to address the problem of family stress. The government needs to take a fair look at its taxation policies. At every turn people are being taxed to death. Taxes continue to increase. We hear daily about the government's huge supposed tax cuts that took place, but they just do not register with people and they do not register on their paycheques. We have property tax. We have income tax. We have fuel tax. We have sales tax. The list goes on and on. The government needs to take a look at its taxation policies and how they affect families.

Our monetary policies have a great deal to do with family stress. We see our dollar falling. We see Canada falling behind in production. We see that people must work harder and harder to break even, which continues to put pressure on the people who least need that pressure on their families. People are forced into the workplace. Some of them do want to be there. Families are under stress.

Earlier I talked about arrogance and defined it as an exaggerated sense of one's importance or abilities. The whole bill smacks of that. It seems to be a congratulatory and ineffective piece of legislation. It is unfortunate that it does not deal realistically with the problems of youth justice in a concrete way.

The problem has existed. It continues to exist and it will continue to exist. Our kids are being left at risk. The government should not be wasting our time and taxpayer money, but I am afraid that is exactly what the bill would do.

Canadian Wheat Board May 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wheat Board is refusing or unable to sell producers' wheat. Farmers can either sell it for feed, store it or sell it to the wheat board and buy it back themselves at a higher price.

Instead of telling farmers to quit growing wheat, when will the minister allow farmers the freedom to market their own grain and free them from the ridiculous scenario of having to buy their own wheat back at higher prices in order to market and process it?

Canadian Wheat Board May 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, farmers can compete and succeed if given a chance. The minister in charge of wheat has said that grain farmers are lurching from crisis to crisis. However this year the Canadian Wheat Board has told farmers that it will only allow them to sell 60% of their durum crop.

How can producers in the middle of the worst farm crisis in decades survive on 60% of their income? Will the minister make the necessary changes to allow farmers to market the rest of their crop, the same crop that the wheat board refuses to sell for them?

Canadian Wheat Board May 18th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the organic farmers are not part of that group. They are not represented by it.

The minister should reread his title. He is the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board. He is responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board Act. He is responsible for its glaring failures.

Arnold Schmidt wants to sell the organic flour he mills from his own grain. If he farmed in Ontario he would have no problem doing that. Because he lives in Saskatchewan the wheat board minister has decided he cannot export his own product.

How can the minister support this unequal and unfair policy that is penalizing development in western Canada?

Canadian Wheat Board May 18th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board has repeatedly told the House that the wheat board has a program that will allow organic farmers to market their own grain. He is wrong. Clearly he does not understand the issue. The board's organic policy only lends farmers the money to buy back their own grain from the government.

Organic farmers have rejected this absurd idea, yet the minister continues to personally support it. Why does the Canadian Wheat Board minister choose to stifle western rural diversification and development?

Agriculture May 17th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, throughout Alberta and western Saskatchewan farmers are facing a potential drought that could knock out any hope of producing a crop this summer. Some areas, especially in eastern Alberta, have had a shortage of moisture for well over a year.

Cattlemen are already telling us that they will have to sell off cows due to a lack of groundwater. Yesterday, as it has done for the last few weeks, the wind blew. It blew until there were dust storms with blizzard like conditions and in some areas visibility was down to 100 yards.

Meteorologists are already anticipating that this widespread drought could be the worst drought we have seen in 100 years.

Given the Liberal government's previous slow response to agricultural issues, I would like to ask the government the following questions: Is the government aware of this potential crisis? Does Agriculture Canada have an action plan in place to help those farmers affected by a drought? Will it be too late before this government takes any action?

Petitions May 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present my first petition on behalf of the constituents of Cypress Hills—Grasslands.

The petition is signed by 370 concerned citizens regarding a topic that is particularly near and dear to my seatmate, the member for Lakeland. These citizens are calling on the government to amend the regulations to allow the sale of concentrated strychnine for use in the control of the Richardson's ground squirrel.

Canadian Wheat Board May 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, spring has arrived and farmers are in the fields. As always they are looking ahead with anticipation. It seems wheat prices might even rise this spring, but that is immaterial because farmers' grain cannot be marketed.

Durum growers are only allowed to deliver 60% of last year's production and are prohibited from selling the remaining 40% elsewhere. During one of the worst farm income crises ever in the grain industry, the Canadian Wheat Board is forcing farmers to survive on only 60% of their income.

Voluntary Canadian Wheat Board participation would allow farmers to find markets and to process their own grain. Current buyback requirements inhibit producers from selling or processing their own wheat. Farmers must be allowed to find buyers for their grain, especially when the wheat board cannot sell it.

When will the government make the Canadian Wheat Board voluntary so that farmers can sell and process what they grow?

Farm Credit Corporation Act April 30th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Selkirk—Interlake on his presentation and for sharing his time with me. We are here today to debate Bill C-25, an act to amend the Farm Credit Corporation Act.

The purpose of the Farm Credit Corporation, since 1959 when the Farm Credit Act was passed, has been to provide farmers and those involved directly with production access to loan money. A short history of the FCC shows that major changes have happened over the years, but we can see that it has also maintained its original mandate of providing loans to primary producers over the 40 plus years it has been in existence. It was established in 1959 to provide credit to farmers and specifically to primary producers. At that time the loan rate that money was lent to farmers was set at a legislated rate of 5%.

The 1960s saw substantial changes to the FCC from the initiation of an appeal board in 1965 to the introduction in 1968 of a market formula rate that allowed the FCC for the first time to cover the cost of its borrowing. During the 1970s the FCC expanded and in 1978 it posted its first ever surplus. The 1980s, however, were a much different story. This was a difficult time for much of the agricultural farm sector. The FCC found itself caught in the agriculture squeeze and the federal government was forced to put $600 million into the FCC to keep it solvent.

In 1993 the Farm Credit Corporation Act was passed allowing the FCC more flexibility to fund farmer owned, farmer related agricultural proposals. It was not just farm land that money was being lent on, but farm related businesses could also get loans. However those farm related businesses had to be controlled by primary producers.

In recent years the FCC has been self-funded and it continues to grow, but throughout its 40 plus year history its mandate has always been to fund primary producers in their agriculture related endeavours. We are today again debating the future of the FCC in Bill C-25.

The bill makes several changes to the Farm Credit Corporation. It makes significant changes in some areas and not so significant changes in others. One of the changes involves changing the name of the corporation from the Farm Credit Corporation to Farm Credit Canada. This is not a name change that is necessary in western Canada where everyone is familiar with the Farm Credit Corporation, but it is being done to give it a stronger name recognition in the province of Quebec. I hope that the expense can be justified when it comes to changing the name.

More substantive changes are being made to the bill than just the name change. I would like to talk about three or four of them today. The first one deals with equity financing. This change is seen as a positive change if it is properly done. If the FCC is to be involved in agriculture lending then it needs to move carefully in this direction.

If members were to take a look at some of the developments in agriculture, particularly in western Canada with hog barns being built and feedlots being proposed and built, they would see a situation where people do not have a lot of collateral to put up for these projects. For the lenders to be involved in that they need to be able to take out an equity position in it.

The bill would allow the FCC to do those kinds of things and then to develop its loan portfolio from there. These are projects that have a higher than average risk factor to them. It gives people an opportunity to get some financing. It also gives lenders an opportunity to cover their own interest.

The second change the bill proposes is to formalize the lease financing arrangement in which the FCC has already taken part. Lease financing allows producers some good possibilities as well. For different reasons, people sometimes do not want to buy their equipment. Lease financing allows them to lease it. Leasing for some is also a tax decision. Leasing gives the producer the choice of service that he wants to take part in. It is a good opportunity for producers and for the FCC. The FCC's lease financing in the past has been shared with other institutions, for example, the CU lease program. This would give lenders the opportunity to protect themselves.

One of the main concerns I have about lease financing is in the area of land and how land is handled by the FCC. It was because of the situation through the 1980s that the FCC found itself holding in excess of one million acres of land at one point and it had to do something with it. Some of the land was leased back to farmers. Over the years the acreage that it was holding has been dropping off, which has been a good thing, but the bill does not address the issue of whether the FCC would be into land leasing in a big way or not. From the evidence, it seems that the FCC is not interested in that. If that is the case, it should be addressed in the bill.

The legislation, in order to be supported, needs to clarify that area. Farmers do not need more competition, particularly from a government funded corporation.

The main change I see in the bill, and the one that is most important, is in the loan eligibility criteria. Up until this point loans that were given out by the FCC had to be given to people who were primary producers or the majority of people involved in the project had to have been primary producers.

Bill C-25 proposes to change that. It would allow lending to ag-related businesses that are not producer controlled or producer owned. The argument for this change is that it would help develop value added businesses. The benefits of this argument are outweighed by some potential problems. I would like to talk about two or three of those problems.

First, and most important, the legislation represents a basic change in FCC policy and philosophy. For 40 years the FCC has had one mandate, which is to provide primary producers with access to credit. This would change from farmer oriented to agribusiness oriented and the focus would shift significantly because of the legislation.

Second, I have a concern over a potential conflict of interest in the legislation. We have seen in the past that other semi-independent government institutions have given us examples of conflict that we do not want to see in the FCC. The most prominent of these and the most obvious has been the Business Development Bank. We have watched and we have been assured that it is business as usual for even the Prime Minister to call these institutions to influence loan decisions.

To this point the FCC has been free of those problems and accusations, as far as I know, and it should stay that way. The legislation brings in a potential conflict of interest problem that the FCC and producers do not need.

The third concern is the possibility of large agribusiness corporations or co-operatives coming to the FCC for financing. We have seen businesses of different sizes getting in trouble. For the first time the bill would allow the FCC to make large loans to large scale businesses. The problem with that is if that does happen it would remove the possibility of financing for smaller operators and for farmers.

I would like to wrap up my comments today with some conclusions. First, the equity financing provision in the bill is a potentially positive addition. It would be an improvement if it were properly and carefully managed. We will be pushing for amendments, however, in a couple of the other areas that I have mentioned, particularly in the area of restricting lease financing to equipment.

Although the FCC did have over a million acres in its portfolio, it has reduced that. Two years ago it had 360,000 acres and last year it dropped off to 120,000 acres. From what we see here, it is trying to get rid of the land. We need an amendment that would ensure the FCC does not find itself in the same situation that it did 10 years ago.

Most important, we need an amendment that would continue to require that active producers are the majority participants in order to be eligible for FCC loans. This runs contrary to what the legislation suggests but, in the interest of primary producers, needs to be maintained.

For 40 years the FCC has been concerned, first and foremost, with primary producers and their agricultural operations. It is essential that remains the focus of the FCC business. The bill leads FCC away from that. The FCC should restrict itself to its historical mandate and work to do a good job in that area rather than trying to spread itself all over the agricultural landscape. Bill C-25 needs some amendments to accomplish that goal.