Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC)
Mr. Chair, it is my pleasure to participate, albeit very succinctly, in the debate tonight. I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Crowfoot.
I want to pick up on some of the points that my hon. colleague from Malpeque just made. In his remarks he said that he would certainly like to see some cash in the hip pockets of our producers. That is something that we on this side of the House have been hollering about for 18 months. The program that was designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats is not delivering the needed assistance to the farm gate. We have been saying this repeatedly for a year and a half.
It is more than a touch ironic to hear the hon. parliamentary secretary stand in his place and suggest that the Liberals too want to see some much needed cash reserves in the hip pockets of producers. I would argue that if that were true, the government would have found a mechanism or program designed by the producers to get that assistance to them a lot more readily than we have seen to date.
Earlier in his comments he said the government wanted to ensure that the design of this program was right. Speaking on behalf of the producers in Prince George—Peace River, we have heard over and over again, not only from members of the Conservative Party on this side of the House but from members of all parties, including his own party, the frustration from our producers on a daily basis.
It is hard not to be struck by a bit of déjà vu. In preparation for tonight I took a look at remarks that I had made back on February 3, 4 and 5, and a take note debate on February 13. I could read the same remarks word for word eight months later. The Liberals come up with these programs but the money does not get to where it is needed. The members representing the cabinet stand and say that they sure want to get that money out to producers because they know how bad they are hurting. Pardon me for being just a tad cynical.
In rising tonight the message I want to deliver, as I did in February, eight months ago, is the frustration that is at the farm gate. These are families that in some cases are second or third generation producers. They are on the verge of losing their farms, losing their ranches, and losing their feedlots through no fault of their own. This was not an issue of bad management. This was not an issue of them having spent their money unwisely. This is totally beyond their control.
The hon. member stands in this place and says that the government has done everything it can. People contact me in Prince George—Peace River who owe their livelihoods to this industry and point out to me that it is pretty strange that the government would not spend money on advertising, for example, in the United States, reaching out to consumer groups to suggest they are paying a bit too much for their beef and are getting an inferior product because we know that the best beef in the world is produced in Canada. The government would rather spend sponsorship money advertising Canada and Quebec instead of beef, lumber or whatever in the United States to put an end to this border closure.
The Liberals stand in their place and profess great sympathy for the industry and producers. When I talk about producers, I do not talk about Joe farmer. I talk about Joe farmer's family.
These are families that are hurting. It is children who are hurting. They are arriving home on the school bus and have to listen to their parents debating about how they are going to meet their monthly bills. There is real hurt, but to listen to the government we would never know it.
All I wanted to express tonight on behalf of my constituents is the frustration because they are not buying it any more that the government really cares. If the government really cared, it would have designed a program that worked, not try to funnel money through CAISP, and force provinces and producers into a program that it knows does not work.
As a past farmer of 20 years myself, I am fed up with governments that force-feed programs to producers and tell them that it knows what is best for them.