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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 February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is helpful, in the context of the circumstances existing at the present time, to speculate about the proposition the hon. member has raised.

It is extremely important for us to urge the parties to assume their responsibilities, to get back to the bargaining table and to take full advantage of all mediation facilities that are being made available to them in the present circumstances by the Government of Canada.

They have a responsibility to resolve the dispute and to resolve it fast.

Agriculture February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the hon. member will know, as a western Canadian with a great deal of interest in the health and well-being of the western Canadian grains industry, I am very anxious to pursue every conceivable possibility that will enhance the position of western Canadian grain farmers properly within the context of national public policy.,

The precise question he has asked in terms of labour relations and other issues affecting the west coast grain handling situation must be put within that broader national context of overall policy considerations with which the Minister of Human Resources Development, with his particular responsibility for labour, would be intensely involved.

The idea the hon. member suggests is not a new one. It has been proposed by others in western Canada from time to time, but at the present moment it is not under active consideration.

Agriculture February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

The question he has raised is one of broad policy considerations. I must admit that in the last number of days I have been focusing more importantly on the immediate concern with respect to the work stoppage on the west coast. I am pleased to take the opportunity of this question to provide an update on the present situation.

As members will know the federal mediator that was made available in this dispute was appointed last Tuesday, February 1. The talks with the parties commenced on Wednesday. They continued through the day on Wednesday and in fact until 5 a.m. on Thursday. There was an adjournment during the day on Thursday. The talks resumed at 3 p.m. on Thursday. As the hon. member advised in his question, those talks broke off at some point yesterday afternoon or last evening.

The mediator, Mr. Lewis, will be providing a full report shortly-in fact it may be in hand at the moment-to my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development. The minister is making his senior mediator from the offices in Ottawa available to assist in bringing the parties back to the table and resuming the discussions in Vancouver.

The government would strongly urge the parties to reflect very carefully upon their respective positions and their responsibilities in this matter. The parties should resume their negotiations immediately.

Agriculture January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. These discussions with the United States bearing on a number of agricultural commodities are presently ongoing. I am sure the hon. member will understand that I must for obvious reasons be rather guarded in what I say publicly.

I do not think it is appropriate for us to bargain long distance and perhaps in that way do some things that would potentially impair the Canadian position. I hope the hon. member will understand the need for some confidentiality.

I can say that ever since Canada unfortunately lost a GATT panel decision on its import quotas on ice cream and yogurt in 1989, all of us with the interests of agriculture at heart-and I am sure that includes members on both sides of this House-who sincerely want the best for agriculture have been very aware that this particular issue, because of that previous GATT panel ruling, would have to be resolved in one manner or another at some future date with the United States as we go about attempting to arrive at a solution.

Again I assure the hon. member and all farmers that the vital interests of Canadian agriculture in all parts of this country are very much on the top of the government's mind.

Agriculture January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I do not know exactly what the source of the hon. member's question might be, but if it is based on

some of the speculation in the media about what may or may not be under discussion between Canada and the United States I would advise the hon. member that speculation is not entirely well-founded.

I would assure him that to the extent the ongoing discussions with the United States bear upon questions that have to do with supply management, the Government of Canada is acutely aware of the interests of all Canadian producers in this subject, especially the interests of producers in the province of Quebec where supply management forms a very large part of the agricultural industry in that province. In whatever discussions we may have with the United States the interests of those producers will be front and centre in our thinking.

When we are in a position to announce some conclusion to our discussions with the United States, members of the House will be the first to know.

Grain Transportation January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. Obviously the issue of grain transportation, and in particular the Western Grain Transportation Act, is a subject that is under active consideration by this government.

The previous government had established a number of processes that will result in a series of reports we expect to receive during the early part of this year, specifically on grain transportation efficiencies.

In the member's question he has pointed out a fairly glaring example of an inefficiency in the system. We await that report on grain transportation efficiencies. We also await a report on the method of payment under the Western Grain Transportation Act conducted by a producer payment panel.

While we as a new government are by no means bound by processes started by a previous government, we are anxious to receive this input. We will be making our decisions in due course.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

I am pleased to have the opportunity to briefly respond to the question. I am sure we will have other opportunities to consider the questions raised by the hon. member in greater detail. The member certainly has touched upon some vital questions in terms of the future of Canadian agriculture.

I mentioned in my remarks that we would be reviewing the whole system of farm safety net programs and hopefully moving toward the concept of whole farm income safety nets for the future. They have a number of advantages from our domestic point of view. The whole farm income concept also has the great advantage of being largely production and market neutral. Therefore it is less likely to be subject to any violation of the new GATT. That is one of the reasons we are very interested in this concept of whole farm income safety nets. That would touch upon many of the support programs the hon. member has referred to, including crop insurance and so forth.

The area is under review. We have a conference coming up in February to begin the process of that review. Working with the provinces, the farmers and farm organizations, I think we can arrive perhaps at the end of 1994 at a much clearer understanding about how we need to adjust our programs to ensure they are doing the job properly for Canadian farmers.

The answer on the Western Grain Transportation Act would necessarily be long. I assure the hon. member it is a subject which is very likely to be affected at least in some way by the implications of the GATT. It is a subject matter that we will undoubtedly revisit in this House on many occasions as I consult, as I ought to do, before any changes are made.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am fully aware that opinion in some parts of western Canada is very sharply divided upon the method of marketing barley.

The short answer to the member's question as to why the system is no longer in place as it was temporarily in place in the latter part of 1993 is simply that the previous government proceeded by a method which the courts ruled to be beyond the government's jurisdiction. The courts ruled that the process undertaken by the previous government was in fact contrary to law.

In terms of whether the system ought to be revisited or reviewed in the future, some in western Canada are proposing the idea of a plebiscite on the issue. The matter of a producer plebiscite can be considered in due course. However, I would caution members against rushing too quickly toward that conclusion. That is because plebiscites sometimes are not quite as simple and clean solutions as one might otherwise think.

In this case, for example, I think there would need to be a legislative framework to ensure that the plebiscite was conducted properly. One would need to have some definition of a trigger mechanism to start the process of a plebiscite. One would have to give careful attention to the wording of the question. As the hon. member knows, whether the question is phrased positively or negatively can have a profound impact on the outcome. Then there are the thorny questions like who gets on the voters list, who is entitled to vote on the issue, and whether it is restricted in some way.

There are a good many complexities relating to the question of a plebiscite. I think all of us would want to think it through very carefully before rushing into that as necessarily the right way to go in these circumstances.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I appreciate both the comment made by the previous member and the question just asked by the member from my home province of Saskatchewan.

With respect to the situation prevailing at this present moment the short answer to the member's question is that the new regime under GATT has not yet come into effect. The implementation date is July 1995, so the benefits we hope to achieve and that I mentioned in my speech will be forthcoming after implementation. I would dearly love to see those benefits come in advance but unfortunately we cannot get them until the process actually gets into place.

On the question of whether we have given up our ability to have import controls under article XI where other countries have not given up corresponding things, the facts are that all countries have surrendered their rights to have those kinds of border restrictions. In Canada those restrictions related to our supply managed sectors under the auspices of article XI.

In the United States it is the section 22 waiver under the U.S. agricultural adjustment act. In Europe it is the system of variable levies. In Japan and Korea it is the limitation system they had with respect to rice. All those methods previously used as non-tariff barriers will no longer be permissible in future under the new GATT once it is implemented in 1995. All of us have surrendered something in that regard, getting instead this system of comprehensive tariffication.

Will there be aberrations along the way? Undoubtedly so. We will have to be vigilant, to watch out, to make sure that this playing field is as level as it possibly can be. One thing we do have to assist us in that regard now, or when the GATT is implemented, is a new world trade organization which should be a substantial improvement over the ad hoc and undisciplined system that used to exist in the past.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to join in this debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of a brand new Parliament and the beginning of the mandate of our new government.

In that government I am very grateful to have the opportunity to represent the people of Regina-Wascana. I want to thank them for the trust they vested in me in the election of October 25.

Regina-Wascana includes the southern half of the city of Regina and a rural area running south and east from the city. I am proud to represent Saskatchewan's provincial capital, together with several thousand rural residents. I would note that most of the rural voters now in Regina-Wascana were previously in a Saskatchewan constituency known in earlier Parliaments as Assiniboia which I had the honour to represent in this House in the 1970s. I am pleased that a respected friend and colleague from that earlier Parliament has been chosen by this House as its chief presiding officer. I also want to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your election to this high responsibility.

I want to pay tribute to the two distinguished members who moved and seconded the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. They are representative of the diversity, strength

and depth of the government caucus, of which I am very pleased to be a part. That caucus has worked hard to get to this House and to get to the government side of this House and I know they are determined to play a strong and positive role. They have already done so in working with me in my responsibilities as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. They have been vigilant, mature and highly effective in advancing the interests and concerns of their constituents on agricultural issues.

As Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I am responsible for a very important component of Canada's economy and a major source of economic growth. This sector employs more than 1.8 million Canadians and generates 8 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product. Food production and processing are important activities in all parts of Canada, east, west and central, rural and urban. Our agri-food policy was spelled out very clearly in the famous red book during the election campaign.

The two broad thrusts of that policy are to provide the agricultural sector with stability and certainty for the future and to ensure that it contributes to economic growth and jobs. We ran on that platform, we were elected on that platform and we plan to implement that platform. We will work hard with industry and with the provinces to ensure that the job gets done.

A secure agricultural sector means safe, reasonably priced food for Canadians, financial stability for farmers and others in the sector, stewardship of our resource base, and a predictable trade environment.

Economic growth requires that we take advantage of export opportunities, that we promote innovation, that we support market development and reform policies that might tend to impede growth.

In that overall process international trade must be central to any attempt to rebuild the Canadian economy and to broaden our opportunities in agriculture and agri-food. One and a half million Canadian workers-that is one in five-depend directly on exports for their livelihoods. Total two-way trade in goods and services accounts for almost half of our GDP. Only Germany among the Group of Seven countries is more dependent on trade than is Canada.

Given those facts, reaching a new GATT agreement was essential for Canada's future. It is one step on the road to achieving the goals of job creation and economic development.

This government came into the GATT negotiating process as the clock was very close to nearing midnight. There were barely six weeks between the time the cabinet was sworn into office and the GATT deadline date on December 15. But once at the table in Geneva we battled hard to reach the best possible agreement for Canada. My colleague, the Minister for International Trade, and I made a number of visits to Geneva and Brussels to deliver Canada's message personally to trade negotiators and ministers from other countries. We fought hard and I believe we have a good agreement.

It is true that we did not get everything we wanted in the bargaining process, but we gained much more than we may have given up.

Although much of the focus in this round of the GATT has been on agriculture per se, the agreement over all will benefit all Canadians. It should stimulate the world economy and help create badly needed jobs in our country. The OECD has estimated that the agreement will give the Canadian economy an $8 billion boost by the year 2002. It is in my opinion a good deal for Canada.

Agriculture, of course, was a major part of this Uruguay round at the GATT. For the first time in the history of GATT we now have an agreement that brings agriculture under effective trading rules. The agreement will reduce the risk of damaging trade actions because rules will apply equally to all countries and countries' specific exemptions will be eliminated. A framework of rules will help to prevent the misuse of things like sanitary and phytosanitary measures as disguised trade barriers.

A strong new international body, the World Trade Organization, will help to resolve trade disputes. Canadian farmers and processors will be less subject to unfair competition resulting from foreign export subsidies. Improved market access in Japan, Korea, Europe and the newly industrialized countries will bring exciting new trade opportunities for Canadian exporters. While the timing of export subsidy cuts is certainly slower in the GATT than we would have wanted, the cuts that were in fact achieved will result in significant subsidy reductions by the end of the six-year period of this new GATT. That should help to stabilize and improve prices in the grains and oilseeds sector of our economy.

While in the bargaining process we found virtually no support in other countries for our strengthened and clarified article XI, our preferred method for safeguarding supply management, we are confident that our supply management systems in Canada can continue to do well under the new concept of comprehensive tariffications.

The livestock and red meat sector will be winners under the GATT because of greater security of access to markets. Replacing import restrictions, import levies and other trade distorting measures with tariffs will result in additional export opportunities for beef and pork products to Europe, Japan and Korea and over time this will create a more equitable trading environment for Canadian exporters.

The new trade regime, while by no means perfect, should provide the stability and the predictability that we need to plan and invest for the future. We must now work together as Canadians to ensure that we reap the maximum benefits for all sectors of the agri-food industry in all parts of this country.

We have 18 months to prepare ourselves for the implementation of the GATT. If we do our homework well in that period there are abundant opportunities for us to capitalize upon and the future for agriculture and agri-food can be and I believe will be bright indeed.

To deal with the special needs of the supply managed sectors of agriculture I have asked my parliamentary secretary to head a small consultative task force involving producers and processors and government officials on the broad question of supply management renewal. This process has been endorsed by all of my provincial colleagues across the country. The purpose of the task force is to identify for governments all of the issues that we will have to address and to recommend processes by which those issues can be addressed in this 18-month period before the GATT comes into effect because we all as governments, federal and provincial, want to be fully ready for July 1995.

Changes in the world economy will profoundly affect the way that we trade. We are witnessing the increasing globalization of markets. It is no longer unusual to see fresh produce from New Zealand or southeast Asia in our local grocery stores. In addition, commodity prices are experiencing a long-term decline in real terms.

Canada can no longer depend on primary product exports to the extent we have in the past for improvements in our standard of living. We will have to rely more and more on value added exports to new and changing markets.

I think there is tremendous potential in value added. Three-quarters of all agri-food jobs are found beyond the farm gates. My Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food is now positioned and ready to help farmers and businesses take advantage of the kinds of opportunities that new markets represent.

The department has a new branch, Market and Industry Services, with offices right across this country in all provinces specifically designated to work with the industry on enhancing its global competitiveness and increasing its share of domestic and international markets.

The federal government also has 50 full-time employees working on agri-food trade development in more than 150 foreign markets. The team includes 13 specialists dedicated to agricultural issues in priority export markets including Japan and Taiwan. Their job is to help improve market access and provide up-to-date market information and intelligence to Canadian exporters. Agri-food specialists in other key international locations may well be appointed in the future.

One of the Prime Minister's first major initiatives after taking office was to travel to Seattle to meet leaders of the 17 nation Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group. These APEC countries represent the most dynamic and fastest growing economic region in the world.

While western industrialized economies have stagnated in recent years, annual growth among APEC countries has been between 6 per cent and 9 per cent and they account for 40 per cent of world trade. World Bank figures indicate that half the increase in the world's wealth between now and the year 2000, as well as half the increase in world trade, will come from Asian countries. There are huge opportunities for Canada in this burgeoning market, particularly in products like pork and other value added products.

Speaking to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture last November, Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute described the Asian marketplace as the greatest opportunity in farming history. As Asian countries become more affluent their demand for high protein products will rise. It is a demand that they may be hard pressed to meet and that is where we come in. Canada has a well earned reputation for producing the highest quality food products in the world, and it is a reputation we can capitalize on to penetrate new markets.

Next to Asia, Latin America is the fastest growing trading area in the world. For Canadian agri-food exporters it has trailed only the United States as the second fastest growing market for our products. In recognition of the importance of trade and the need to develop these markets for Canadian products, the Prime Minister has appointed two secretaries of state within foreign affairs with responsibility for trade with Asia and Latin America as well as with Africa.

With the GATT and the NAFTA in hand the government has been turning its attention to other outstanding trade issues, in particular our ongoing bilateral disputes with the United States. While in Geneva in December, I had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues with my American counterpart, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the hon. Mike Espy. I met with Mr. Espy again earlier this month in Toronto and we have had a number of conversations by telephone since.

I remain reasonably optimistic that the various areas of disagreement between Canada and the United States at the present time from wheat to peanut butter, to sugar, to some dairy matters can be resolved to the satisfaction of both countries, but we may rest assured that the Canadian government will be vigorous and vigilant in advancing the Canadian interest in respect to these products.

The issue of outstanding wheat and barley rights with respect to the European Community is also a top priority. My officials and I will continue to work with the Europeans, as will representatives of international trade, to seek adequate compensation for our historic GATT rights with respect to high quality wheat and barley in Europe.

Another key priority will be to develop new whole farm safety net programs for the future. In two weeks time I will be meeting with provincial and industry representatives in Winnipeg to start work on the future of safety nets in agriculture in Canada. In my view we need a safety net system that meets the basic needs of all agricultural sectors and does not distort market signals, one that lets farmers make sound decisions based on comparative advantage and not based on government programs. Money is tight. We cannot afford a patchwork of ineffective programs. However I believe we can afford a safety net system that works, and that is what we will all be working toward.

Even as we strive to reduce expenditures I intend to place increased emphasis on agricultural research. Good research is not a frill to be cast aside in tough times. It is fundamental to make Canada a world agricultural and agri-food leader. In our platform, the famous red book, we talked about the importance of research and the need to increase joint venture funding. Since we do not have a lot of money I will be looking for ways within my own department of reallocating priorities so that we can continue to move forward on research despite the necessities of budgetary restraint.

I believe the federal government can play a leading role in innovative research and development, for example in biotechnology which has a very strong reputation in my province and other exciting new areas like ethanol.

However R and D spending cannot just be turned on and off like a tap. Inadequate and inconsistent support for research has already resulted, in my judgment, in some missed opportunities.

We must effectively bring together the drive and dynamism of individuals and entrepreneurship with the brain power and strength of our universities and research labs. If we do that effectively the combination can be very powerful for Canada and very powerful in the field of agriculture.

As I conclude I recall that 90 years ago this week Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared that Canada would fill the 20th century. It has become fashionable to compare today's reality with Sir Wilfrid's sentiment and to say that he was wrong.

However when we consider carefully what Canadians have achieved in this century, a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world, a country with a peaceful democratic society, a country that is the envy of people everywhere, maybe Sir Wilfrid was not so far off the mark after all.

Over the next four years we will have the opportunity to show that the 20th century did indeed belong to Canada. We will have the opportunity to make history, to restore the faith of Canadians in themselves and in their country, and to prepare Canadians for the next century with the same confidence they had at the start of this one.

This government is looking forward to meeting that challenge.