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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

Dairy Farming June 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to acknowledge the very hard work on the BST issue that was done earlier this spring by the standing committee of agriculture of this House.

On the precise issue of licensing or the matter of whether to issue a notice of compliance, I would advise the House that issue is fully and entirely within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Health. I know the Minister of Health will be making her decision in accordance with all the applicable laws and regulations in due course and that matter is entirely within her purview.

With respect to the government's specific response to the recommendations of the standing committee, I have not had the opportunity yet to consider those recommendations with my Cabinet colleagues but I do expect to have that opportunity

soon. While I cannot absolutely guarantee it, I would hope to be able to provide the House with the necessary response under the rules of the House hopefully before the House adjourns on June 23.

Transportation Subsidies June 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in the course of the last several weeks I have been in touch with probably 30 or 35 farm organizations across this country, including a very large number in western Canada, inviting them to join with me in the common cause to develop for the future of our industry in Canada a well thought out, well prepared game plan so that we can approach the turn of the century in Canadian agriculture with confidence that our

industry will be well prepared to tackle not only the domestic marketing opportunities we have but also those internationally.

In the process of that development of the long term vision for Canadian agriculture, including the western Canadian grains industry, I will be looking for the useful, constructive advice of all of the players and all of the stakeholders who want to have a part to play in developing that plan for the future, including not only the farm organizations and the provincial governments across this country which are vitally interested but every member of this House, including the Reform Party if it has constructive observations to offer.

Agriculture June 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is at least in part because of the great complexity of this issue that we intend to take the necessary time in order to consider all points of view and arrive at a very considered judgment as to what any future reform measures ought to be.

The hon. member has touched upon some of the complexities. There are many others. That is why the Minister of Transport and I have repeatedly said that we have processes under way already. There will be additional processes started later this year and continued through the fall and winter to hear all of the stakeholders who are involved in this very complicated and difficult matter. We will make sure that all points of view are taken into account. When the Government of Canada makes a decision with respect to transportation reform, it will make sure all of the issues are appropriately and fully addressed.

Transport Subsidies June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not have noticed but the period of time since the original passage of the Western Grain Transportation Act in 1984, I believe, until November 4, 1993 was occupied by a different government of Canada. If he is concerned about delay during that period of time perhaps he should exercise his questions elsewhere.

With respect to the process I now have under way, I indicated within days of assuming my responsibility as minister of agriculture-and certainly during the throne speech debate back in January, in other speeches in the House and in addresses I have given to farm organizations from one end of the country to the other-that the government has a very active agenda in terms of developing the competitiveness, profitability and future success of Canadian agriculture.

We have laid out that agenda very clearly. The hon. member will see in the weeks and months ahead a very vigorous agenda on the part of the government in dealing with the pressing issues confronting Canadian farmers.

Transport Subsidies June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is inviting me to pre-empt the consultative process which has been under way for a number of months across Canada. Obviously I am not inclined to do that because I want to see the advice before I make any decisions.

With respect to the timeframe issues to which the member referred, the new General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is scheduled to come into effect at some point in 1995. We suspect it will be July 1, but there is still some discussion among GATT countries about what the precise implementation date will be.

Once GATT comes into effect it requires certain disciplines upon subsidies to be implemented gradually over a five or six year period. The timeframe being referred to by the hon. gentleman, between now and 1995, is obviously the timeframe before the GATT comes into effect. Once the GATT comes into effect there is a phase-in period for any change that stretches over a following period of at least six years.

Transport Subsidies June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Transport clearly indicated his view that over time the government will be rethinking its role in direct subsidies in transportation in light of Canada's international trading obligations and with an aim to ensuring competitive and efficient transportation systems in Canada.

I have indicated time and time again in this House that a number of processes are under way to consult broadly with all of the stakeholders in the western grain transportation system to deal with the possibility of reform in the system. One of those processes is a study on transportation efficiencies being conducted by the Grain Transportation Agency. The report on that study has been received and it is being reviewed internally. Another study is being conducted by a group called the Producer Payment Panel dealing with the method of payment with respect to the Crow benefit under the Western Grain Transportation Act.

I expect to have a final report from the Producer Payment Panel some time in the month of June or perhaps early July. We will take all of that input into account as we make decisions in the future. I have indicated very clearly that all of these various reports and studies would be the subject of further consultations with farmers and farm organizations across western Canada in particular but with all those in the country who have an interest before the government makes any decision. No final decision has yet been taken.

Western Grain Transportation June 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to inform members of the House of the government's plans to address several problems experienced during the current crop year in the transportation of western Canadian grain to market. These actions are intended to help clear up this year's difficulties. Even more important, they will help ensure that those difficulties are not repeated in the next or subsequent crop years.

Members of the House will be aware that significant delays were experienced this year in getting western Canada's grain to market. The reasons for this were several. The flooding of the Mississippi River system forced United States' shippers to turn to other modes of transportation. This tied up rail cars in the United States that would normally have been available for lease to Canadian rail companies. The turnaround time on rail cars in the United States is longer than in Canada. A severe winter limited unloading at country elevators and slowed the movement through the system. A labour dispute on the west coast

added to the congestion of ships waiting in harbour to take on Canadian grain.

While I was on a trade mission to the Pacific rim earlier this spring, I was told in no uncertain terms by our customers that their purchases of grain and oilseeds from Canada were not being delivered on time and that this was disrupting their own operations. While Canada's reputation as a quality grain producer helped the country through this year's difficulties, our customers told me that unless we improved our delivery record they would begin to look elsewhere for more reliable suppliers.

While I was in Asia the subcommittees of the agriculture and agri-food committee and the transport committee of this House were working in Ottawa to produce valuable recommendations to help alleviate several of the problems we were experiencing.

As soon as I returned from the Pacific rim I called an urgent meeting of key players in the western grain transportation sector. The meeting was held in Winnipeg on May 16. There were representatives from the grain companies, the railroads, the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Grain Commission, the Grain Transportation Agency, the unions, and the maritime employers. I presented them with a list of initiatives including many of the subcommittees' recommendations. I asked that group in Winnipeg for their input and advice.

Shortly before that meeting was held, members of the Grain Workers Union and owners of the west coast grain terminals reached an agreement that allows for weekend unloading, thus reducing some of the bottleneck at the ports.

From a backlog of 41 vessels waiting for grain on the west coast when our problems were at their height late in the winter and earlier this spring, we now have that number of waiting ships down to 15 as of this week. That is the number which is considered close to reasonable for the efficient use of the ports. The railways also will have increased their fleet this month to more than 30,000 grain cars, compared to 24,600 in mid-February.

What is critical though is that we cannot afford a repeat of this past year. I want to congratulate the labour and industry representatives and the members of the two subcommittees of this House for their dedication to solving the myriad of problems that have plagued western grain transportation these past several months.

Incorporating the work of those subcommittees, the industry leaders, the labour representatives and advice from Transport Canada, Human Resources Development and my own Department of Agriculture and Agri-food, I wish to announce the following measures with the support of my colleagues the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Human Resources Development.

First, the system of back hauling grain from Thunder Bay as far as Winnipeg just to qualify for subsidies under the Western Grain Transportation Act is going to end. This practice which has crept into our system in the last period of time is nothing more than a waste of our resources and an inefficient use of our rolling stock.

Second, a system of demurrage and storage charges for rail cars will be developed. Currently there is no system of penalties or incentives in place to encourage shippers of grain to use and return rail cars to the general fleet expeditiously.

These two changes require amendments to the Western Grain Transportation Act. We propose to make these changes with an implementation date of January 1, 1995. Thus those who may be entering into contracts now have notice that changes are to be expected.

Third, if the railways do not deliver sufficient rolling stock in the future to accommodate grain shipments, the government will use provisions of the Western Grain Transportation Act that apply to sanctions and hold backs where necessary.

Fourth, a policy will be developed to define the circumstances under which private cars could be added to the general grain fleet for western grain movement, if we are again faced with severe rail car shortages.

Fifth, we will end the maximum elevation tariffs at the west coast and Thunder Bay to increase competition among elevator companies and to allow them to charge at sufficient levels to cover the increased costs of weekend loading at port.

Finally, the forecasting of rail car requirements will be improved, as will be the co-ordination of inland loading and movement of rail cars with vessel arrivals at the ports.

We will be working with the group of key leaders who met in Winnipeg on May 16 to make sure that these changes are in fact implemented as quickly as possible. We will be looking beyond that group as well for input on longer term measures to prepare our western grain transportation system for future challenges.

In that spirit I have spoken today by teleconference with 34 of the senior leaders of relevant farm organizations, businesses and institutions who are the stakeholders in these processes for both the short term and the long haul.

Through the changes we are beginning to make, we fully expect Canada will be able to restore its reputation as a reliable supplier of quality grain. Nothing less is acceptable.

Agriculture June 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in February I convened a meeting in Winnipeg with 40 or 50 farm organizations from across the country in addition to provincial and federal government officials. Their objective was to consider the future need and shape of a national safety net system based upon the whole farm concept that was described in the red book at the time of the election.

A national safety nets committee involving these 40 or 50 farm organizations is now in place. They have been working hard through the spring and early summer. Producers are very much leading the process. Their work is augmented by and co-ordinated with the ongoing work of federal and provincial officials. Their work has also involved consultations with all members of the House who have on occasion expressed an interest in making representations about the safety net system.

The objective is to have recommendations in place to present to federal and provincial ministers of agriculture when we meet for our regular meeting in July in Winnipeg. Our objective after that is to begin the implementation of the whole farm system by the beginning of 1995.

Grain Transportation June 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, besides responding directly to the hon. member's question I would like to congratulate him and thank him and all members of the agriculture and transport subcommittees of the House that investigated certain problems we experienced this year in our grain transportation system.

I can advise the House that I will be announcing later today a package of changes in this area. I believe the hon. member and other members of the transport and agriculture subcommittees will see that very many of their recommendations are included in the announcement I am about to make.

Grain Transportation June 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the government has indicated that this issue is very high on its agenda for action in the coming months.

In addition to some of the issues referred to by the hon. gentleman in his question, we also have some important considerations to take into account with respect to the impact of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, especially the new GATT which is to come into effect in 1995. That is a most recent matter that comes to bear on the situation with some very direct consequences that we have to take into account.

The hon. member may rest assured that he and his colleagues, and most especially farmers across western Canada, will see a very vigorous, active agenda on the subject in the time between now and this time next year.