June 1, 2000

LIB

Derek Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 13 petitions.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Government Response To Petitions
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LIB

Bernard Patry

Liberal

Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to table in the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian section of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie, as well as the related financial report.

The report has to do with the meeting of the Commission on Parliamentary Affairs, held in Pnom Penh, Cambodia, from March 2 to March 4, 2000.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Interparliamentary Delegations
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LIB

Clifford Lincoln

Liberal

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Pursuant to its order of reference dated Thursday, May 11, 2000, the committee has adopted Bill C-27, an act respecting the national parks of Canada and has agreed to report it with amendments.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the hon. members and witnesses who sat for many long hours to make this report possible.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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LIB

Peter Adams

Liberal

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the third report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. This report is entitled “Seeking a Balance: Final Report on Human Resources Development Canada Grants and Contributions”.

The report is the result of four months of very public hearings. The committee heard from witnesses from all over the country, from within government and outside of government. These witnesses were selected by members of all five parties represented on our committee.

I want to thank the members of the committee, the witnesses and the staff of the committee who assisted us in producing what I hope will be a very valuable piece of work.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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REF

Diane Ablonczy

Reform

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, with respect to this report, the official opposition members of the committee are strongly of the opinion that the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities failed to fully report and constructively criticize the department's mismanagement and abuse of grants and contributions programs.

We believe that the committee is in dereliction of its responsibility therefore to hold the government accountable on behalf of Canadian workers, employers and taxpayers.

The Liberal majority report does not impute any responsibility to anyone in the mismanagement of the department and blames other factors. Because the Liberal majority report denies the nature and scope of the problems at HRDC, the recommendations it makes fails to address the root cause of these problems and our dissenting report and 14 recommendations from the official opposition are appended.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I would seek the permission of the House to explain the dissenting opinion of the Bloc Quebecois on this report.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

The Deputy Speaker

I regret to inform the hon. member that that requires the unanimous consent of the House. Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member to explain his party's position on this report?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important report. It contains, among other things, a recommendation by the Bloc Quebecois, which I myself proposed, that the department be dismantled because of the crisis we have witnessed.

We submitted a dissenting report because, if the government simply dismantled the department without getting to the bottom of things in this situation through an independent public inquiry, we would not have honoured the wishes of the citizens of Quebec and Canada in this matter.

I think government action must go a lot further, otherwise this will be seen as nothing more than camouflaging.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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REF

Howard Hilstrom

Reform

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, presented Tuesday, February 22, be concurred in.

We are here today to finish up a bit of unfinished business and ongoing business dealing with the farm income issue across Canada, in particular in western Canada.

I would ask if I could have the agreement of the House to share my time with the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster so that we would each have 10 minutes.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

The Deputy Speaker

Is there the unanimous consent of the House to permit the hon. member to share his time?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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REF

Howard Hilstrom

Reform

Mr. Howard Hilstrom

Mr. Speaker, I do not have concurrence to share my time. We should have a positive attitude in parliament and we should work together to address agricultural issues. I am very disappointed that my colleagues in the House feel that this spirit of co-operation is not necessary in addressing agricultural problems in Canada.

The majority report which was put forward by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food on March 13, in which I concurred, was inadequate and did not adequately address the issues, nor did it adequately examine the problems. I will address that as we go along. Primarily the problem was that the hearings were confined to three provinces, when I know very clearly from geography books and the history of the country that we have 10 provinces as well as the territories which have agricultural issues.

Since October 21, 1999, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food has examined issues surrounding the farm income crisis facing farmers. I would like to point out that it was the Canadian Alliance and my motion which in fact got the hearings going on the farm income issue. As far as I know, had we not done that, the government would have continued on with the statements of the minister, saying “Relax, NISA and crop insurance are sufficient to address this crisis”, when it soon became very apparent that the basic farm safety net programs would not do the job.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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REF

John Duncan

Reform

Mr. John Duncan

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that if the member for Selkirk—Interlake had simply stated that he was splitting his time, that indeed would be allowable in the House.

May I request that he simply make that statement at this time, that he would indeed be splitting his time with another alliance member?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

The Deputy Speaker

Yes, that has certainly been the practice. The hon. member asked for consent and sat down, so I asked for consent and it was refused. I only asked for it because he asked me to.

If he wants to split his time, that is his business. Normally we do accept that a member can stand at the beginning of his or her remarks and say that he or she will be splitting his or her time.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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REF

Howard Hilstrom

Reform

Mr. Howard Hilstrom

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time.

In November 1999 the Canadian Alliance started a series of meetings across Canada to address this issue, which the Standing Committee on Agriculture Agri-Food and the Liberal government were unwilling to do.

In November 1999 the action for struggling agriculture producers committee was struck by the Canadian Alliance in response to the income crisis. The hearings were necessary because the ongoing farm income crisis had not abated. In fact, as of this day it has not abated.

In Saskatchewan farm incomes have improved somewhat, but only because of farm subsidy programs. What we have not seen is an improvement due to the government addressing the root causes and the problems of farm incomes in Canada, including western Canada and southwest Ontario, which rely on export markets for many of their cash crops.

There are many root problems, but I will just mention two or three that are major and should be addressed right away.

First, the government has to get out of the way of the value added processing of raw agriculture, such as grains and meats, on the prairies and across the country. The Canadian Wheat Board at the present time is putting roadblocks in the way of pasta producers, who, in trying to do value added processing, find that they have to sell their grain through the wheat board and then buy it back, which makes it uneconomical. The organic farmers will also find that the wheat board is a tough customer to deal with as their organic products start to increase.

We have the problem of marketing, which I have mentioned. Farmers must have the ability to decide how best to market the products from their farms. In this regard the government has to move to make the Canadian Wheat Board a voluntary organization.

Later today we will be dealing with the transport reforms. I mention them here as part of the ASAP report, because farmers certainly said that they need to have transport reform. The transport reform needs to be toward the side of a commercial contract based system.

I would like to point out the current situation on the prairies. I would like to refer to people in Saskatchewan who have addressed this issue.

We have the general statistic that arrears on farm debt in Saskatchewan increased between February and March from $6.3 million to $8.2 million.

John Eberl, the administrator of the Rural Municipality of Antler, said that out of 15 farmers in his immediate area, three have gone bankrupt. After 30 years, Don Kincaid believes he is finished with farming. Don Kincaid lives about 60 kilometres southwest of Regina. He said the reason is that he could not risk losing more money. That is a sign of desperation. Farmers do not see any improvement in the immediate future. That is a big problem.

The issue of input is also paramount to the health of agriculture in western Canada. Between 1994 and 1998 farm cash receipts increased 7.5%. Meanwhile, operating expenses like fuels, chemicals and labour rose 9.4% and depreciation increased 15.8% As a result, realized net income fell by 11.5% during the five year period.

Until these root causes of the problems for farm income are addressed, including high taxation by the government, farmers will not be able to have a real optimistic outlook. The government is perhaps hoping that there will be natural disasters around the world that will drive up grain prices, but that is not the way to do it. The way to do it is to start addressing the root causes in Canada.

I would ask for the concurrence of the House to table, in both official languages, the report of the action for struggling agriculture producers committee, which I have compiled along with my colleagues in the Canadian Alliance. In particular, I would like to mention the outstanding work done by the hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the document to which he has referred?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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?

Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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June 1, 2000