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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was respect.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Regina—Wascana (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the importance of this issue to the province of Saskatchewan. It is also an important issue generally because of course the principle of equity with respect to action taken in Saskatchewan must fit with the overall programming of safety nets across the country.

I would hasten to point out to the hon. gentleman, who I think already knows, that I did not cause the problem with the GRIP in Saskatchewan. This government did not cause the problem with the GRIP in Saskatchewan. That dubious responsibility rests with previous federal and provincial governments. We are trying to solve the problem with respect to Saskatchewan and we intend to do it as rapidly as possible.

Canada Grain Act October 4th, 1994

moved that Bill C-51, an act to amend the Canada Grain Act and respecting certain regulations made pursuant to that act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to introduce for second reading today this legislation to amend the Canada Grain Act. These amendments will contribute substantially to the competitiveness of our grain industry and the well-being of the many communities, families and individual Canadians who earn their livelihoods in this very important sector of the Canadian economy.

As members of this House will be aware, the Canada Grain Act is administered by the Canadian Grain Commission. Under the act the commission is responsible for regulating the handling of grain in Canada and for establishing and maintaining standards of grain quality. The commission plays an essential role in maintaining the international reputation which Canada enjoys for high quality grain products.

I therefore wish to take a moment as we begin this debate to acknowledge the hard creative work performed by commission employees from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Baie Comeau. I would also like to thank commission staff for its contributions to the preparation of the amendments that I am bringing before the House today. In expressing these sentiments I am sure I am speaking for all members who appreciate and understand the challenges which we as legislators place before the men and women who work in Canada's public service.

I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the weighty contribution to this bill that has been made by Canada's grain industry. These amendments are the product of lengthy, detailed consultations throughout the Canadian grain industry with producers, grain industry executives and farm organizations which represent the full spectrum of that important industry.

I want to outline the consultation process so members of this House can share the confidence that I have that the legislation we have before us today does represent the needs, the expectations and the views of the overwhelming majority of stakeholders from all sectors of our grain industry.

In February, 1991 the Canadian Grain Commission initiated a review of licensing and security issues arising under the act. The commission circulated a discussion paper and held face to face consultations with the representatives of 45 organizations. These organizations represented grain producers, elevator companies, grain dealers and so on.

Then in August, 1991 the commission circulated a policy proposal which was the subject of wide discussion throughout the grain industry. The grain commission met with the representatives of 57 organizations. This second round of consultations produced much useful feedback and resulted in a revised proposal being circulated in November of 1991. Each group that had participated in those earlier consultations received a copy and was asked for additional written comments and recommendations.

Based on the responses to this round of consultations the grain commission produced a revised proposal and circulated it again in February 1992. Additional suggestions were made in discussions with stakeholders that occurred during the 1992 federal regulatory review process.

The legislative amendments that I bring before the House today are rooted in this consultation process and form an essential part of government's general commitment to strengthening Canada's competitive position in world markets.

For purposes of our discussion today I would group the amendments that we have before us in three broad categories. The first deals with enhanced competitiveness. The second deals with more protection for grain producers. The third is focused on new safeguards for Canadian taxpayers.

I would like to deal with the issue of enhanced competitiveness. The grains industry in this country is changing and the pace of change is accelerating. To remain competitive in global markets, markets in which Canada sells most of its grain, we need a regulatory and legislative framework which protects the shared interests of all of the stakeholders.

At the same time it must assist individuals and groups within the industry to compete successfully, adding value where possible to their efforts. Our proposed amendments to the Canada Grain Act are designed with these concerns in mind.

The Canada Grain Act will be amended to strengthen the role that quality plays in Canada's grains industry. This will help reinforce the many things we do in Canada which ensure that only the best grain varieties are developed, marketed and transported through our bulk handling system. This amendment affirms that as Canada's grain sector evolves quality will continue to be a cornerstone of the Canadian grain marketing strategy.

Canada's commitment to grain quality will be strengthened in other ways as well. The definition of contaminated grain will be clarified and the responsibility of elevator operators for the safe handling of hazardous compounds and the safe disposal of contaminated grain will be clearly spelled out.

As well, an amendment will confirm the commission's authority to set standards for the drying of grain. This is perhaps more important than first might appear. Because improperly dried grain often cannot be detected until it is actually processed the first sign of a problem in this area could be a dissatisfied customer, and that is obviously too late.

This amendment provides the commission with another means by which to maintain Canada's reputation for grain quality. This translates into enhanced competitiveness for Canada's grains industry.

In the spirit of removing unnecessary laws, process elevators will not be required to undergo weigh-overs. A weigh-over is a procedure in which an audit is conducted to verify tonnage in store by grade. Weigh-overs obviously serve a useful purpose when conducted at terminal and transfer elevators because in those instances the elevators are often handling grain they do not own. By contrast, process elevators own the grain they have in stock and therefore weigh-overs serve no useful purpose.

A central objective of this government is to remove laws and regulations which have outlived their usefulness and this amendment supports that objective.

As I announced in July 1994, the grain commission will no longer be required to set maximum tariffs for elevators. Elevator tariffs are the fees that grain elevator companies charge for their services. Government regulation of tariffs dates back to a time when producers were much less able to protect themselves from the setting of unfair prices. However, because producer owned or controlled companies now control the majority of elevator capacity in Canada, there is no need for government to continue to regulate tariffs on behalf of producers.

This deregulation of maximum tariffs will proceed in two stages. First, during a two-year transition period, the commission will retain the authority to set tariff ceilings by order. I would not anticipate any significant problem with this process.

In the current crop year terminal elevator operators were given the power by commission order to set their own elevation tariffs. For the most part, their increases were relatively minor and on the whole fair. This bodes well for the future and I am confident that allowing the market to function more freely will provide benefits to everyone concerned.

At the same time, even after the two-year transition period the commission will continue to have the authority to deal with maximum tariffs if that should become necessary. During and after the transition period the grain commission will perform an ombudsman role, responding to complaints and seeking remedies.

I wish to stress that this amendment arises from our commitment to regulatory reform, removing regulations that hinder the competitiveness of Canadian industry, and developing a regulatory regime which adds value to the efforts of Canadian enterprises to compete in international markets.

Bill C-51 will remove the requirement that only public carriers transport grain interprovincially. This will benefit producers, providing them with transportation options that may help them to reduce some of their marketing costs. Other amendments will allow the grain commission to stipulate that electronic transmission of transactions may replace paper documents. This will save money and time for the grain commission and for the industry as a whole.

I would now like to turn to the issue of protection for grain producers. The Canada Grain Act of 1912 established the Canadian Grain Commission in large measure to protect the interests of Canadian grain producers. This remains a central feature of the act, and several of the proposed amendments

before us today are designed to maintain this protection function.

They include granting authority to the grain commission to act against companies that illegally use Canada Grain Act grade names. The bill also includes provisions that require licensed grain dealers to use Canada Grain Act grade names in all of their transactions with producers, provisions to specify the way in which grade, dockage and moisture content are determined and recorded at the country elevator, and provisions to allow the suspension of licences of primary elevators where overages exceed allowable limits.

Overages are discrepancies between the amount of grain an elevator has in store and the amount that it should have according to records of shipments and receipts. The amendments will also include provisions that confirm the authority of the grain commission to require operators to fully ensure the grain in their elevators.

The current reporting requirements are not as effective as they should be under the law for determining the financial health of a prospective licensee. Therefore, this bill contains provisions that require prospective licensees to provide specified financial data which demonstrate their financial viability.

I would now like to turn to the issue of enhanced protection for taxpayers under this proposed legislation. The amendments will provide such protection for the taxpayers of this country. Members will recall that in 1991 the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the grain commission was liable for losses sustained by producers in the early 1980s when two licensees went bankrupt and their security posted with the commission did not cover their liabilities.

As a result of this, Canadian taxpayers were required to pay more than $3.9 million, an amount equal to the difference between the security posted by the companies and their actual liabilities to grain producers.

While the Federal Court of Appeal has obviously disagreed, it is the view of many in the industry that the Canada Grain Act was not intended to provide unlimited protection for grain producers in all circumstances.

Unlimited business protection of the kind apparently envisaged by the Federal Court of Appeal judgment is unknown in virtually any other sector of our economy. Most producer organizations understand how it can lead some producers into making unwise business decisions.

Therefore, while protection by security posted by licensees is one of the rights producers have under the act I believe, and the majority of producer organizations with which the commission consulted agree, that grain producers need to assume somewhat more responsibility for their own business dealings.

While certain of our amendments give the commission more authority to deal with licensees whose security may be insufficient, other amendments place an onus on the farmer to help minimize his or her own risk. These provisions include, first, an amendment that will provide by regulation protection for producers for a prescribed period from the date of delivering their grain to a licensee.

If producers decline to accept payment for their grain within that specified period, they will not be eligible to be paid out of the licensee's posted security should that company ultimately fail. Based on consultations which the grain commission has conducted with producers and the industry the prescribed period will be 90 days. There will be a requirement that the farmer must notify the grain commission within 30 days of a failure to pay or default by a grain company.

The amendments will also place a responsibility on the farmer to determine if he or she is in fact dealing with a duly licensed company. As only licensed companies must post security with the grain commission, claims will not be valid if the farmer is dealing with an unlicensed company.

A provision will require the producer to obtain grain commission authorized documents from grain dealers and other grain commission licensees. The amendments will permit the commission to set percentage limits on security coverage. The commission would not however be able to use that particular regulatory power without governor in council approval. Currently coverage is 100 per cent. I expect this will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

Finally, the amendments explicitly limit the ability of the Canadian Grain Commission to have the amount of security posted by licensed companies through the commission. This provision is designed to bring the protection enjoyed by producers more in line with security provisions common in many other areas. It is a bit analogous to the limits placed on what the government will guarantee depositors in a financial institution that fails.

These provisions are not a cure-all. No legislation can ensure that grain companies will not make bad decisions. No law will prevent bankruptcies. Nonetheless, these amendments will place more responsibility with the producers for dealing with licensed, viable companies. As well these provisions will encourage producers to refrain from taking unnecessary risks when dealing with any company, licensed or otherwise.

These amendments will reduce the risk which has been borne in the past by the taxpayer. As I said in my first introductory remarks this package of amendments was preceded by a series of

in depth industry consultations across the grains industry in this country.

These consultations demonstrate conclusively that the industry has changed, strengthening our conviction that Canada's legislation has to respond to those changes. I believe the amendments before the House today have the support of the majority of participants in our grains industry. These organizations share my belief that these amendments will produce substantial benefits for producers, taxpayers and the grains industry as a whole. I recommend the amendments contained in Bill C-51 to the House for approval.

Agriculture September 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, sometimes those who are trying to avoid all the facts like to reduce things to simple one line answers and that is thoroughly inappropriate to these circumstances.

Farmers in western Canada would tell the hon. gentleman that this is a critically important and vital subject. It is a subject that is exceedingly complicated in terms of the administration of world markets. I have undertaken that farmers will have the opportunity in a forum which I intend to commence this fall to explore all of the pros and cons of the issue so that all the facts can be fully known and understood and that the information available to farmers is fully complete and not partial or biased.

Grain Transportation September 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, since May 16 I have been meeting on a very regular basis with not only representatives of the railroads but also their unions, the grain companies and all the governmental institutions involved in the transportation of western grain in order to ensure the backlog problems that occurred in the last crop year are minimized and hopefully avoided altogether in the current crop year and for the future.

Those meetings through the spring and the summer have identified a range of actions, including the solution to the back haul problem that the hon. gentleman refers to, plus the matter of demurrage and storage charges on rail car, plus improvements

in the efficiencies of the system, plus the addition of private cars to the fleet and so forth.

All those measures are going forward and, as promised in the spring, those which require either a legislative framework or a regulatory framework to allow them to be implemented will be proceeded with in the House this fall.

Grain Transportation September 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in dealing with the situation pertaining to the railways to which the question refers, the hon. gentleman will know that while there are provisions in the Western Grain Transportation Act that deal with the performance standards of the railways, under the previous government the appropriate regulatory regime required under those legislative provisions was never implemented or enacted.

We have the draft regulations being prepared at the moment so that those provisions of the Western Grain Transportation Act pertaining to railway performance can be implemented and utilized in appropriate circumstances. The hon. gentleman can rest assured that there is no double standard.

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

moved that Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, last October the government was elected based on a comprehensive plan for Canada known as the red book, which was our platform. In that red book we made a number of commitments to the people of Canada. I am very pleased that within our first 11 months in office we have made considerable headway on a number of fronts.

As Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food it is my great pleasure to speak today about one of these initiatives, namely the government's commitment to research and development specifically in the context of Bill C-50.

I recall attending my very first meeting with producers as a new minister. It was a meeting of the Manitoba pool elevators last November in Winnipeg. There were a number of issues on the minds of delegates at that meeting. They wanted to talk about GATT and about trade issues. They wanted to discuss transportation and safety nets. All of these issues have been moving forward at a very rapid pace and some of them with much public fanfare and media interest.

I also recall at that meeting another important issue that was raised by one of the delegates, one which received less fanfare and less public attention. The question was about research. I told the delegates at the Manitoba pool convention what I have been telling farmers and farm organizations across the country throughout the course of this past year. I believe agricultural research is an extremely important issue, one where we must continue to focus our resources.

My department already has a very good track record in selecting research and development projects with a high return for Canada. We are continually reviewing our research priorities and programs to ensure that we are getting the best possible value for every research dollar. We are also nurturing our partnership approach to industry responsive research by inviting our industry, academic and producer partners to take responsibility with us.

We are placing a strong emphasis on matching funding and joint projects with stakeholders in all facets of our operations. This allows us to use the market for direction.

Some might say this approach reduces the federal commitment to research or that my department may use the check-off proposed in Bill C-50 as an excuse to reduce expenditures in wheat and barley research. While it is likely that overall government spending will decline as we battle against the deficit, as we must, I want to emphasize that innovation and a strong research program are essential to Canadian agriculture and will be a priority for my department.

I make no apologies for sharing the responsibility of the future of agriculture with our industry and producer partners. Some members may have heard me talk about the matching investment initiative which we have launched this past year. Under this program we will spend some of our existing R and D dollars in a new way. Where industry identifies research projects that are of commercial interest we will match industry's investment dollar for dollar. This is not new money but money we have redirected from lower priority activities.

This approach makes sense and allows us to move forward on research while maintaining fiscal responsibility to Canadians. Producers have told me they want to play an important role in research since the results of research directly affect their operations and ultimately their livelihoods. This shared approach gives us the best of both worlds.

Good research is not a frill or an ivory tower pursuit to be thrown aside in tough times. Dedicated and focused research is a necessity for survival particularly in tough times. Dedicated and focused research supplies the technology that creates opportunities for market development and new exports which are so vital to the sustainability of our industry.

One of the most important initiatives with significant long term implications for the future of agriculture generally and the grains industry in particular is in plant breeding. Today we are considering Bill C-50 which is legislation that will lead to an additional $4.7 million in annual investments in plant breeding research.

This investment has the potential in about 10 years to translate into a $400 million increase in gross returns to prairie farmers annually. It is an investment which will cost wheat producers about half a cent a bushel or about 20 cents a tonne. I think any investor would be more than just a little interested about such an attractive rate of return.

What I am talking about today is a research partnership, the result of a proposal put forward by producers through the Western Grains Research Foundation. The proposal calls for a voluntary producer levy or a check-off program to support plant breeding research programs for wheat and barley. The federal

government is acting on this recommendation from the foundation.

For the past several months my department has been working very closely with the Western Grains Research Foundation to develop a check-off program which will enable grain producers themselves to supplement existing research budgets. To make this happen we require some legislative amendments. That is why I am recommending that the act which governs the Canadian Wheat Board be amended to allow voluntary levies to be deducted for the explicit purpose of supporting plant breeding research. Such deductions are simply not possible under the existing Canadian Wheat Board Act.

I bring this legislation to the House today and I am asking members to support it based on the knowledge that this program is a joint effort among government, industry and the research community. This check-off plan has been developed in close consultation with producer groups as well as with scientists from universities and from my department.

As I stated earlier I am a firm believer that the best way we can accomplish our research objectives is for both industry and government to invest in research in a partnership approach. This effort before you, this specific check-off plan, is supported by the Canadian Wheat Board and has already received strong support from a majority of farm organizations. And well it should since the concept has been a producer initiative from day one, an initiative which we have been working on with producers to make it a reality.

This program will generate additional research funds through the voluntary levies on wheat and barley sales. The levies will be deducted from Canadian Wheat Board final payments to producers. They will apply to board sales of most wheat in the four western provinces and the sales of barley in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. Alberta sales of soft white wheat and barley would not be subject to this levy as producers of those commodities already have check-offs in place provincially.

Some people might point to reduced wheat acreages and suggest that producers will not want to support a so-called declining crop. To these people I would say that despite ongoing diversification of crops, wheat is still a major crop for many producers on the prairies. Last year it contributed $2.7 billion to the Canadian economy.

Despite the recent and dramatic surge in the importance of canola as a crop in Canada, with better world prices in the last number of weeks wheat may have regained its rank as our most valuable crop. It is important to remember also that wheat is not one crop but actually is seven. Some varieties such as durum, extra strong, and white prairie spring are gaining acreage and gaining market share.

I would like to provide the House with a bit of background about why research levies are needed and what we hope to achieve with them. I would like to explain how the grain producers on the prairies in partnership with government came to the decision that such levies are a necessary and important key to the future of prairie agriculture and the grains industry in Canada.

The Western Grains Research Foundation is a federally chartered public organization with a proven track record in supporting effective pure research. It was established just over 10 years ago to allocate research funds. Its economic base came from the interest earned on $9 million left over from the prairie farm assistance act when it was repealed.

Currently the foundation distributes about $900,000 a year in interest funds. It has done some very good work with that money. It has focused on vital issues such as the problem with fusarium head blight in Manitoba. The foundation is quick in its reaction time and it is targeted on vital issues.

The foundation is run by a board of directors representing its member producer organizations and includes a representative from the research branch of my department. What this means is that the research decisions of the Western Grains Research Foundation are made by producers and the foundation is accountable for those decisions to all of its producers as well as the federal government.

To carry out its new research objectives the foundation will establish two research advisory committees, one for wheat breeding and one for barley breeding. These committees will be responsible for developing operational plans and co-ordinating research programs designed to achieve our plant breeding objectives. They will decide which research projects to fund in western research centres and the emphasis will be on funding work that will meet a future market need.

Western plant breeding centres receiving funding will report on their progress annually to the Western Grains Research Foundation. This progress will be reviewed by the advisory committees who will make decisions about continued support. Furthermore the foundation will report annually to all prairie permit book holders giving an accounting of the money received and how it has been used to accomplish the research goals.

The role of the Canadian Wheat Board in all of this is purely administrative. All major decisions will be the responsibility of the Western Grains Research Foundation which is ultimately accountable to its producers and to the Government of Canada. I feel very comfortable with the accountability process which the Western Grains Research Foundation has established for itself under this proposed program.

In supporting these amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act hon. members of the House will be in very good company. They will in fact be joining a team of supporters from

12 prairie farm organizations which make up the Western Grains Research Foundation.

Those member organizations are: United Grain Growers; Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association; Manitoba Pool Elevators; Prairie Canola Growers Council; Flax Growers of Western Canada; Saskatchewan Wheat Pool; Keystone Agricultural Producers; Western Barley Growers Association; Oat Producers of Alberta; Alberta Wheat Pool; Canadian Seed Growers Association; and the Unifarm organization of Alberta. There are recent indications that other groups and organizations wish to join this team of research oriented and progressive farm organizations.

These organizations are key players in the Canadian grains industry. All of them have backed the voluntary check-off proposal and they have consulted with their producer members. It was the decision of these organizations that dedicated research funds be collected and applied explicitly to plant breeding research.

What we have here is a program that producers want. It is one we will be supporting through the legislative amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act now before the House in the form of Bill C-50. Simply put, the program will enable producers to do what they have asked for: to invest a portion of their own money into the future of their crops, their industry and their very livelihoods.

Canada's grains industry is highly dependent on exports. Today's grain customers are demanding both a stable supply and a high quality product that meets their end use requirements. I have consistently maintained that we must be able to respond quickly to changing market conditions if we are to remain competitive in those vital global markets.

The proposal before the House will help us to improve our competitive advantage while also improving farm incomes. New varieties of wheat and barley will be developed. New varieties will lead to improved field performance, higher yield potentials, increased resistance to disease and insect pests, earlier maturity and reduced harvest losses, all improvements which will reduce per tonne production costs for farmers.

The development of new varieties with specific qualities required by the marketplace will improve sales through the development of new market opportunities. This will keep Canada on the fast track in meeting marketplace demands.

For example, Canada must be able to respond rapidly to new demands for varieties of wheat suitable for specific uses such as frozen bread dough, Asian type noodles, or new varieties of malting barley that are needed in markets like Korea and China. In fact we do have a variety of wheat that is suitable for the frozen bread dough requirement, but so far it is not grown in large enough quantities.

Meeting the demands of these changing trends in food consumption preferences could mean significant new market potential and increased profits for western producers. Sound investments in crop research will pay off in better market returns to farmers in the future.

Will Canada be ready when opportunity knocks in terms of these new markets? With the benefit of research initiatives such as this voluntary check-off proposal contained in Bill C-50, I firmly believe Canadian farmers will be in a better position to compete in that very tough and demanding international marketplace.

As I said earlier, the program has the potential to bring plant breeding research almost $5 million in additional funding each year. The House will note that I used the word additional. This is important. I know concern has been expressed in some quarters that governments might take advantage of the contributions made by producers under this program to reduce the government spending on wheat and barley breeding programs.

We all know that cuts have occurred throughout government and that overall spending reductions are likely to be a fact of life in government for the foreseeable future. My department will not target wheat and barley research for special reductions just because of the contributions made by farmers under the program. Funding levels for wheat and barley research will be held in proper proportion to the amount being spent on research for other grain crops within the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Here is how this voluntary check-off will be implemented. It will work in the simplest form possible through deductions from Canadian Wheat Board final payments before that money is distributed to farmers. When I say "as simple as possible" I mean just that.

There are no huge administrative costs or red tape. I would suggest that the administrative costs proposed in Bill C-50 will be lower than the costs of other similar types of programs already in place in some provinces.

Annual operating costs are estimated to be in the order of $106,000 a year or about 2 per cent of revenues. That amount will be deducted from the total amount of levies collected. Western producers of wheat and barley would pay levies of 20 cents per tonne on wheat and 40 cents per tonne on barley. The barley levy is higher to partially offset the lower volume of barley deliveries.

The amount to be levied will be fixed by order in council. The levies will be deducted from Canadian Wheat Board final payments beginning with those for the 1993-94 crop year and those final payments in the ordinary course of events for 1993-94 would be made in January 1995.

The funds collected, beginning in the coming year and in subsequent years, will be automatically transferred by the Canadian Wheat Board to special accounts set up and administered by the Western Grains Research Foundation.

This program is not intended to duplicate or replace current check-off programs already in place in some provinces. Producers who choose not to participate may opt out if that is their preference. Any farmer wishing to opt out of the levy on an annual basis can do so by a simple notice in writing.

However early indications are that we can anticipate a participation rate in this check-off program in the order of 90 per cent. We have confidence in that participation rate because this program has been initiated by producers and producer organizations. It has had their keen support throughout its developmental stages to the point now where legislation is ready in the House of Commons.

Research and development spending cannot be simply turned on and turned off like a tap. Such an attitude toward research only results in inadequate and inconsistent support and missed opportunities. Inaction on the research front would negate the day to day efforts of hardworking farmers across the prairies and Canada would risk losing its competitive edge in wheat and barley markets. We absolutely cannot run the risk of our wheat and barley breeding programs falling behind those of our competitors. For years now our major competitors like Australia, the United States and the European Union have been taking a direct role in renewing public plant breeding programs in wheat and barley. Incidentally, much of their research has been implemented as a result of producer funded programs. A check-off or a producer levy in Canada is required to keep up with that international competition.

I am pleased to bring forward this producer initiative to increase funding for plant breeding research in Canada. The proposed wheat and barley check-off is a very good example of how producers and government can work constructively together to achieve something that will benefit the industry as whole and will translate into benefits for future Canadians.

I recommend that the House approve Bill C-50 amending the Canadian Wheat Board Act to allow voluntary levies to be deducted in support of this important research program. I am anxious to hear the comments and remarks of members of the House who I hope will indicate their support for this particular direction.

I would draw to the attention of the House, this being Tuesday morning, that I have a commitment in cabinet to which I must attend. I regret not being able to stay to listen to the remarks that will be offered by other members in the course of the debate.

I am very pleased that the secretary of state for agriculture and agri-food and my parliamentary secretary will both be here and listening to the remarks of hon. members. I suspect they will be participating in the debate. I very much look forward to the reaction of members to this important bill.

Agriculture September 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question in the House last week pertaining to marketing systems for Canadian wheat, I indicated that I would be providing a forum later on this fall at which the differing views on the subject can be expressed.

It is true to say that there are farmers in western Canada who hold profoundly different opinions on the question of the appropriate marketing system to have in place for their grain. I think it is appropriate that they should be provided with a forum within which the different sides of that particular debate can be aired so that when any future decisions are made they are based on facts and solid information and not merely on innuendo.

Agriculture September 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it would not be appropriate for any member of the House of Commons to comment on an RCMP investigation. The question should be directed to the Solicitor General or to the Minister of National Revenue.

On the policy issue that is involved there are obviously laws in place in Canada today dealing with the appropriate procedure by which grain may be exported. In a civilized and democratic society it is important that all of the laws be obeyed, not just those with which we may selectively agree or disagree.

Montreal Economy September 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure program commenced by the government in literally the first few hours after we took office last November has been a remarkable success story with the mayors, municipalities and provincial governments virtually everywhere across the country.

The minister responsible for infrastructure could add more detail. However, as far as I know without exception it has been heralded as a good and successful program. It is serving a very good purpose in establishing jobs for Canadians in the short term period while that program is in place over a span of about two years.

More important, that program will renew and refurbish the physical underpinning of infrastructure in every province and in most communities from coast to coast in the country, giving us a modern infrastructure base upon which to build economic development for the future.

The benefit of the program is being felt in the city of Montreal, just as it is in my home city of Regina and in all communities in between. That was the first major initiative of the government with respect to economic growth and job creation for the future.

As the hon. member will know, we have many other plans in the development process at the present time. I think he will find as those plans come to fruition that communities such as the city of Montreal and all others in Canada will be able to feel the positive impact.

Social Program Reform September 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the government's entire objective is to create economic growth and with that new jobs for Canadians.

It bears noting that since last November we have been successful in assisting in the creation of 275,000 Canadian jobs, including 79,000 in the province of Quebec.