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Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talked in the beginning about the eclipse and eclipse is right. He leaves the impression that Quebec would do better out of Canada. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The member continues to portray total darkness to Quebec producers on the amount of gains they make out of the national agricultural policy. The facts are that Quebec net farm income has grown steadily over the past 20 years, a result of stability and markets for hogs, supply management products and a growing grain industry.

I might add that these kinds of policies were started by the previous Liberal administration. Quebec has gained a great advantage because of them. Another example given by the member that is a little misleading is that members have to recognize that over 45 per cent of the industrial milk in Canada is produced and processed in Quebec but only 25 per cent of those industrial milk products are consumed in Quebec.

It is because of the national policies we have in place, the sharing of the national market, the expanding international markets that Quebec has gained substantially to the point it has.

I want to conclude by saying that with this new Liberal administration in charge again and being proactive as we are we can move forward as a united nation in exercising our potential as a country as a whole, including Quebec, in fostering exports and profits for Canadian farmers.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on a point of information, I should have attributed the source. The source is Christopher Lynn, a minister in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment. The leader of the Reform Party read a poem that talked about our understanding where the shift is leading us.

Members should understand where this shift is leading us, what this absolute sacrifice of power to the marketplace really means and how it affects us. I will read a two-line quote: "One of the key characteristics of a market society is that it isolates us as individuals. From a market point of view, there is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and markets. Families are only units of consumption based on economies of scale. Communities are only places where individuals come together to engage in economic activity".

That is not the kind of community and society I want to live in. I would suggest that the Reform Party policy that is looking at shifting in that direction is not the society we want to be a part of.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, so noted.

I want to point out that maybe there is something that the Reform members have not learned, and it is that when you set up that kind of system the lowest seller sets the price. The last thing we want to see is Canadians competing against each other in international markets. The Canadian Wheat Board, and as we have seen with the barley experiment, has shown that it is a good seller, that it achieves success in terms of selling and maximizes that return back to producers.

Just where does the Reform Party stand relative to the Canadian Wheat Board and to the supply management system?

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened with intent because being on the agriculture committee I have been amazed at the contradictions within the Reform Party agricultural policy. As I listened to the leader of the Reform Party I am still struck that it is cut, cut, cut, regardless of the consequences.

What does phased clear-cut reduction mean? Can he be more specific than that? Where does the Reform Party really stand with regard to the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management?

You talk about opening up the board to allow basically off board grain to be sold and grain to sold through the pooling system as well. Do you not realize that that works in-

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture as he showed how this government intends to strengthen and maintain the food inspection and safety of agricultural products.

There is another area where Canada has shown leadership certainly and in which we are recognized for producing a high quality product at reasonable prices and that is in the supply management sector. The parliamentary secretary has been charged with a great responsibility in terms of maintaining the benefits of that sector.

I am wondering if he could give us a few comments in terms of how those discussions are coming along and where that is at.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the member for Prince George-Peace River talked about the Reform agricultural policy. He also talked about the elimination of farm support programs.

Could he be a little more specific so that we on this side would have the benefit of knowing what farm support programs that are in place now he wants to eliminate? Could he give the specifics on that?

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Madam Speaker, one of the endearing characteristics of this administration compared to the last is that when we run into some difficulties as we did with the supply management sector at GATT, it is willing to put its trust and faith in producers. It will bring producers together to try to have them understand directly the implications of some of the changes that are being made, to involve them in the process, to actually consult and to listen to those producers who are going to be directly affected by any changes that come about in the future. That is one of the characteristics of the government.

We are seeing it through our committee structure. We are seeing it through the minister of agriculture and the parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture. It is an ongoing process, building on our strengths, knowing the rules and knowing the obstacles that are before us. In that way we are going to again reclaim and regain a strong primary production sector.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Madam Speaker, members should look at the kind of policies we talked about during the election, the emphasis on supply management, the emphasis on strengthening and enhancing the Canadian Wheat Board.

The Canadian Wheat Board is a prime example. It is an agency that maximizes the returns from the marketplace back to primary producers and has shown that it does a reasonably good job of marketing. Certainly it has been having some difficulties as a result of the unfair use of the export enhancement program in many of our foreign markets, but it is still able to maximize returns to primary producers.

The way we hope to achieve a lessening of the dependence on off-farm income is through good marketing structures, through assisting primary producers with better financial arrangements and through farm credit. As we get down the line and are able to put before the House of Commons more policies in the future, members will see the fruits of our labours in terms of giving primary producers the opportunity and the right to be able to earn the majority of their income from their on-farm operations.

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me to rise on this debate in support of the proactive approach the minister and this government are taking to enhance the agriculture and agri-food sector of the Canadian economy.

I might say in beginning that my colleague who spoke earlier should try some of those P.E.I. potatoes from that beautiful red soil. It is unlikely she would then go back to her own variety.

The proactive approach starts right here in the House of Commons with the new government and in committees with the participation of backbench MPs, both from the government side and members opposite. I believe there is a new sense of democracy in the land. As a government we said we would give members of Parliament more power and that we would give a voice to committees. That is evident every day in the discussions in the various committees and is quite a turnaround from the past administration.

The tragedy of the past administration is that many of its policies are still ongoing today in the new administration.

Let us look at the work of the agriculture committee. I think it adds to the leadership provided by the government. The estimates we had before us and are before the committee as yet still contain some of the policies of the past administration. It will take some time to get the new policies of the government in place.

The agriculture committee has been very serious in doing an intense analysis of the department's estimates and looking at ways and means that the department can better deliver services to the farm community. We have been very open about that analysis. We believe that the views of all members are important and should be considered. In that way the government gives a renewed voice to primary producers, to the agri-food industry members, through their members of Parliament at the committee and House of Commons levels.

Let us take a look for a moment at the aggressive direction the government has been taking in the past six months. Let me start with what is a very difficult issue, GATT article XI(2)(c). It has been raised by members opposite to a certain extent. They are claiming that we have undermined producers of their ability to survive and prosper in some areas. We did have a stacked deck against us, left there by the previous administration. We have set up a process to retain the benefits of the supply management system and at every opportunity we talk about how supply management could be used as a model of development for rural areas in other countries around the world.

Changes that happen at the GATT negotiations are not without difficulty, but that is what leadership is all about and that is what this new Liberal government is showing. We have admitted up front to the loss of article XI(2)(c). We did not try to put a spin on it as previous administrations had tried to do. In fact, because we believe in primary producers and have great confidence in the farm community, we have involved them in a process to retain the benefits of the supply management system and move on to greater prosperity we hope in the future.

At this stage I must address some of the points the member for Québec-Est made in suggesting that the government failed Quebec relative to article XI(2)(c). Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is because of strong national policies that Canada has put in place over the years-most of those policies were started under a previous Liberal administration-that Quebec has been able to make the gains it has. For instance, Quebec's net farm income has grown steadily over the past 20 years as a result of the stability and the national programs that we put in place. In fact the member for Québec-Est on April 28 had this to say: "With milk definitely we have had a certain advantage in Quebec over the west, that is for sure".

I do not mind admitting that the attempt of members opposite to try to misconstrue the facts and show that certain moneys are going west or going east and not going to Quebec are creating grave difficulties for us as a nation because the wrong impression is left. Let me tell you that this national government wants

to ensure that dairy producers and chicken producers in all provinces retain the advantage that supply management has given them. We will continue to do so with the processes we have set up in order to see that supply management survives into the future.

Let us examine the stance of this government versus that of the previous administration in terms of the trade action and trade rhetoric coming from our neighbours south of the border. The United States continues to challenge our agencies, our marketing of grain, ice cream and yogurt and other areas. It knows full well that we have won every trade dispute that has been put to any panel. We have won before the International Trade Commission, the General Accounting Office, the Binational Trade Panel under CUSTA and just recently under an international trade audit.

However, instead of lying down and dying the government has said, as the minister said this morning: "This minister will not lie down and die. Canada will fight back". That is leadership. He is standing up for our producers and our nation and that is something new.

Another example of the proactive policies of the government is that we recognize full well the trouble in the transportation sector in terms of the car allocations of grain moving west. We immediately came together and set up two subcommittees, one on agriculture and one on transport. These committees held two intensive days of hearings. Out of them we came up with some recommendations in which we basically suggested that the GTA, the Grain Transportation Agency, should apply the rules of the land.

Where the previous administration failed to apply the penalties that should have been imposed on the railways for not moving product and not putting the capital investment on the rolling stock into place, this government and its members through the committees have said that the penalties should be enforced and that the GTA should live up to its responsibilities. We have recommended that to the minister and the minister is moving forward. The minister of agriculture is moving forward to a meeting on May 16.

I have always been concerned about the policies that lead to a continuing reliance on off-farm income. Liberals will not be working toward removing more farm families from the land but rather working with them to strengthen their ties to the land and the farming community. The government will be working to ensure that farmers become less dependent on off-farm income which not only merely supplements family incomes but is often one of the pillars which ensures the very survival of farming operations.

We are pursuing policies in which primary producers can achieve the majority of their income from the farm. We will work toward implementing marketing programs to do this.

In conclusion, though the government has been very proactive and has provided strong leadership, one of the important factors is the minister of agriculture. Last weekend when the minister was in my riding he showed that he is a leader of the times, that he believes strongly in the Liberal policies that were in the red book during the election campaign. He is willing to sit down and listen to producers, discuss with them and build that strong rural community base in the interests of primary producers and the agri-food industry and businesses all across Canada that this country sorely needs.