June 4, 1993

NDP

Victor Fredrich (Vic) Althouse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Vic Althouse (Mackenzie):

Madam Speaker, my question is for the Acting Prime Minister.

I have been at farm meetings where the Prime Minister has spelled out very firmly his support of supply management and single desk marketing agencies. I listened to the minister of trade say a week or two ago that that was still the policy of the government.

Yesterday the Minister of Agriculture announced what he calls a dual marketing system for barley which seriously undermines the single desk capabilities of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Can the minister explain why this change in policy?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Unlike the New Democratic Party, the Progressive Conservative Party makes changes where changes are necessary, important and go with the changing times in the world today. The NDP are stuck way back in the past. It will always stay in the past because of those attitudes.

The minister announced yesterday that beginning on August 1 western barley producers can choose between marketing their feed and malt barley in Canada and the United States either through the Canadian Wheat Board or privately. The Canadian Wheat Board maintains the jurisdiction of barley marketing outside of North America. That gives a choice.

The hon. member stands up here trying to convince Canadians that this will be the downfall of the Canadian Wheat Board. I would like to point out to my hon. friend that barley sales from the Canadian Wheat Board account for only 1.2 per cent of the total sales.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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NDP

Victor Fredrich (Vic) Althouse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Vic Althouse (Mackenzie):

Madam Speaker, the government does not seem to have paid any attention to the Canadian maltsters. That is one of the few processing industries which is still Canadian owned.

June 4, 1993

Oral Questions

The maltsters pointed out to the agriculture committee that this proposal adopted by the government would mean that they would be less competitive in the Japanese and Chinese markets in supplying a very high-priced malting product. Those are burgeoning markets with a huge potential for increase in consumption.

This move takes away the advantage the maltsters had. Now the U.S. maltsters will have access to that same high-quality barley at ostensibly lower prices because there will be those offerings that occur when it is not through a single desk marketing system.

How is it going to be better for Canadian industry when the government kills the potential and competitive advantage the malting industry had before this move?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, I may have misunderstood the hon. member's question. If what he is saying is that this is going to increase sales of barley to the United States and is going to allow growers to grow some more barley and sell more barley, then I am going to say that the decision is an absolutely good one.

I have to remind the hon. member that it is a choice. I also want to remind the hon. member that the Canadian Wheat Board will continue to market barley other than in the North American market, and in the North American market if the farmers choose to market their barley that way.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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NDP

Victor Fredrich (Vic) Althouse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Vic Althouse (Mackenzie):

Madam Speaker, surely members of the government know the problems with choice. They do not give us the choice of making decisions for the government. They do not give the Liberals the choice of making decisions for the government. Those decisions are made through one place. That is the advantage the Wheat Board has given to Canadian farmers over the past 50 years and the hon. minister should understand that.

As well, the announcement said that the border would be opened between Canada and the U.S. This means that American barley which is subsidized over 47 per cent will be competing head to head on an equal footing with Canadian barley which is subsidized at 24 per cent. Under chapter 7 of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement this becomes irreversible short of abrogating the deal.

Why was that done? Why were Canadian producers put at the disadvantage of being put up against U.S. imports of highly subsidized barley at a time when it was not required under the terms of the trade agreement? This was offered and put on the table. It is part of the announcement. It makes no sense at all.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

What the hon. member is saying is that Canadian producers are afraid of competition. Wrong. They are not afraid of competition at all. They are prepared to compete fairly and will compete fairly.

We grow a great product in this country. It does not need protection from the NDP or from any government. That product can be sold world-wide because it is recognized world-wide as a top product.

The hon. member is wrong. There is no question that some people disagree with this move and others support it. After weighing all the evidence that was presented, the decision was made to go with a system of choice for selling barley in North America. That is what is being contemplated.

I might remind the hon. member that there is a six-year review of this program to see, after it has had an ample opportunity to operate, if it is working well like the people who are supporting it say it will. In that six-year review we will take a look at it then.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

John Harvard

Liberal

Mr. John Harvard (Winnipeg-St. James):

Madam Speaker, I want to pursue the issue of barley because there is a lot of anger on the prairies today, anger brought on by the government's decision to move to a continental barley market.

The minister who has just spoken should know that for the past several months thousands of farmers and every major producer organization in Canada told the minister not to do it. The minister did not listen. Instead he turned his back on farmers. He abandoned farmers, the very people he was supposed to protect.

The president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture calls this a betrayal. Why was it done? Why did the minister not listen to farmers?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, organizations representing barley farmers support this move.

June 4, 1993

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

John Harvard

Liberal

Mr. John Harvard (Winnipeg-St. James):

Madam Speaker, I really find it interesting that on the day after a major announcement of this kind there is no agriculture minister here to speak on this issue.

If the minister responsible had not been so doctrinaire the issue could have been decided amicably and democratically. If push came to shove farmers wanted a plebiscite to decide the issue. That was a reasonable demand. After all, this is not the minister's barley and the wheat board-

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

Does the hon. member have a question?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB
PC

Andrée Champagne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

The hon. member will put his question now, please.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

John Harvard

Liberal

Mr. Harvard:

My question is very simple and it is for the minister responsible today. Why was this matter not put through a plebiscite which was wanted by farmers? It is as simple as that. Why not a plebiscite? Let the farmers make the decision.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, I want to make it very clear that the farmers who are opposed to it can still market their barley through the Canadian Wheat Board. That is there for them to do so. They have the choice. They can market independently in North America or they can go through the wheat board.

Those farmers who want to go through the wheat board can. There is nothing to stop them from doing that.

[DOT]k *k

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
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PORT OF CHURCHILL

LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre):

Madam Speaker, my question is for whoever is speaking for the Minister of Transport.

Yesterday a group of private investors, aboriginal leaders and residents of northern Manitoba announced the establishment of a consortium to establish the world's first commercial polar space board.

Essential to the development of this major high-tech project in western Canada is the maintenance of the railway and port facilities of Churchill. Yet for over a year the Minister of Transport has dithered and withered and done nothing about any kind of ongoing commitment for the maintenance of that port.

Oral Questions

Can we get a commitment today that the facility, the port and railway infrastructure of Churchill will be maintained?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PORT OF CHURCHILL
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PC

Shirley Martin (Minister of State (Transport))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Shirley Martin (Minister of State (Transport)):

Madam Speaker, for the last year the Department of Transport has not been dithering on Churchill. We have been working with Churchill. We have been consulting with the people involved. The port will open this year and will stay open this year.

I am pleased to hear a consortium has been put in place in order to bring more industry to Churchill which is badly needed there.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PORT OF CHURCHILL
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LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre):

Madam Speaker, I do not think the minister understood the question. It is not a matter of the port staying open this year. It is a guarantee that the port has an ongoing, continuing future over the next several decades and not for one year. The minister has made no announcement, no statement, no declaration, to ensure the continuation of the port and railway facilities at Churchill.

Why is it that the western diversification fund rejected this project without any support whatsoever? The space agency has rejected any support and the Minister of Transport is rejecting any support. Why is the government standing in the way of a major high-tech development for western Canada?

.(1135)

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PORT OF CHURCHILL
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PC

Shirley Martin (Minister of State (Transport))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Shirley Martin (Minister of State (Transport)):

Madam Speaker, the government is not standing in the way of any high-tech development in western Canada or any place in the country.

This consortium has not come to the Department of Transport for any financial assistance for what it is trying to do. It is a group of private citizens who have come together to make new business.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PORT OF CHURCHILL
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LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre):

They were turned down by your government. You should know that, if you read your brief, they were rejected.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PORT OF CHURCHILL
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June 4, 1993