Valerie (Val) MEREDITH

MEREDITH, Valerie (Val)

Personal Data

South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
Birth Date
April 22, 1949
businesswoman, realtor

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Surrey--White Rock--South Langley (British Columbia)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
  • Canadian Alliance Caucus Chair (March 27, 2000 - July 31, 2000)
March 27, 2000 - October 22, 2000
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
  • Canadian Alliance Caucus Chair (March 27, 2000 - July 31, 2000)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
April 10, 2002 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
April 16, 2002 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
December 23, 2003 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 216)

May 3, 2004

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I got the impression from my colleague's comments that the government's proposed legislation is not where the priority should be, that there are more important issues in the fishing file that should be addressed.

I would like the member to expound on that, please.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Fisheries Act
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April 20, 2004

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight in the emergency debate on the avian influenza that is affecting so many in our farm community in the Fraser Valley.

We heard a good number of speakers this evening, a lot of them from the Fraser Valley and elsewhere in British Columbia. This is just one more crisis that our province has had to face. We have had our economic challenges with softwood lumber, with the forest fires in the interior, with BSE on some of our more rural larger farms, and now this. It is the last thing we needed in our province.

Like many others, I just want to put a human face on this. For all of these farmers, there are families involved. They are small entrepreneurs, small business people. They depend on supply management to make sure that they are competitive, that they can stay in business. They depend on government support in times of crisis.

As many of my colleagues have mentioned, some of the programs that are set up for other areas of the agricultural community do not really make sense when transposed into this latest crisis. There has to be a different approach to the influenza crisis in the poultry industry.

It is not good enough to use a program intended for the potato crops in P.E.I. or the cattle in the BSE issue. We need to look at this as an individual case and how it is going to affect Canadian chicken production. It is not just chickens. I do not want to call it an overreaction because I think it is a natural attempt by the people who have been given the responsibility to contain this to get rid of anything that has feathers on it, but that overreaction has made the challenge of compensation even more difficult.

Part of the problem is in treating this like one would treat everything else, by getting rid of all of the stock and everything else with feathers on it. This is going to have a real impact not only in the Fraser Valley and not only in British Columbia but certainly in the whole country. The production that has just been lost in British Columbia will have to be replaced by the production in other provinces. We will have to deal with somehow increasing the production in the other provinces without taking away the production in the Fraser Valley, or in British Columbia. At some point, and hopefully sooner than later, British Columbia will need to retain its position and its percentage of production in the supply management of poultry and of egg producing.

It is a matter of making sure that our farmers and our small business people who are related to the poultry industry are compensated but also that the future production level will be replaced and will be kept. A colleague across the way is making commitments and assuring me that will happen, but we have learned from past experience that sometimes it does not happen. Once something is taken away we never quite get it back. I would want to make sure that the government has made assurances that the percentage of production that is guaranteed or given to the British Columbia producers is secure, that when this crisis is over they can depend on the fact that they have not lost some of their market.

I also want to share with Canadian consumers that it is still okay to eat chicken. For heaven's sake, do not stop using the product simply because of this issue. The Canadian government and the people who are hired to protect our food supply are doing a very good job of making sure that any of the product that reaches our store shelves, restaurants and kitchens is good healthy stock. The last thing we want is Canadians to stop using the product.

I want to personalize this. My area is at the far west end of the Fraser Valley. My area is probably the last one where we would find large production houses in poultry. We thought that this had been isolated to the eastern part of the Fraser Valley. It was with great surprise last week that one of the producers in my area, the Friesen family, found that it had travelled. It had travelled approximately 45 kilometres away, which enlarges the whole issue of how this is being transported.

My colleague who spoke before me raised a good point. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. It is not good enough to react to a situation. We have to be asking ourselves how did it happen? How did this thing get out of control, when they thought they had it in a controlled hot zone? How do we make sure that what we are doing is effective?

Perhaps those questions are being asked. Maybe there are people who are dealing with it. However, that communication is not getting out to the people who need to know.

The people in the communities need to be part of the dialogue. Right now we are getting repeated stories in the newspapers highlighting the spread of the disease. There has to be better communication from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as to what is happening and what is being done. There needs to be greater discussion on the cooperation that we hope is there between the federal government and the provincial government in dealing with this.

A good communication plan would help the communities better understand what is being done for them. The communities would better understand that the threat to the health of people is being addressed. This would ease the concern of the consumer. This would ease the concern of not only the domestic market, but also the international market, that we do have it under control, that we are looking after it. There needs to be a better communication plan, so that there is a feeling that someone is in control, that it is being dealt with and the health of our food supply is being secured.

The compensation issue certainly has to be addressed. As a small business person myself, often the bottom line is very thin. The margins of profit and loss are very fine. The producers cannot afford to wait. Producers cannot afford to be given a small pittance of money to destroy a few chickens. What about replacing the stock when their barns are clean? What about buying feed? What about paying their suppliers? What about the suppliers? What about all the people who depend on the industry now? How are they going to survive potentially for six months, maybe eight months?

There are many questions about compensation that have to be answered. The questions have to be answered quickly so that people can make plans. If small business people are to be asked to be without income for six or eight months, they have to start making plans now on how they are going to get through that period without a cash flow.

I do not know if people are getting these answers. I do not know that there is even communication in place to explain to people what is available. I do not know if the government has come up with a plan for them. I do know that the producers cannot wait for an indefinite period of time to get some of these answers, so that they can start doing their planning to see that they get through this crisis.

I hope the government is putting its mind to this compensation issue and to a communication plan. I hope the government will make sure that all of the producers are well aware of what their options are and that they are given options. I hope the producers are able to see their way through this crisis and continue the level of production that is guaranteed to them.

In closing, I would like to see the government put in writing that there is protection of the B.C. market in the poultry industry.

Topic:   Emergency Debate
Subtopic:   Avian Flu
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April 20, 2004

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-11 on the Westbank agreement.

I want to comment on some of the heartfelt remarks that my colleague made and the good work that he did for the party. We went into the aboriginal communities and talked to the people who live there to find out the situation and what they thought, rather than just taking the views of representatives of the aboriginal community who make a living out of lobbying the government.

As representatives of the people in this place, we are their only voice when it comes to government legislation. We often forget that role. We get taken in by the government bureaucrats' position. We are presented with a finished product and we either approve it or reject it. We forget that we are here to speak for the people out there who will have to live with the legislation.

I spent 15 years in Canada's north living with the aboriginal community. I have some very real experiences of the differences between the aboriginals who happen to be registered with the government and those who for whatever reason were never registered. The difference in the way they are treated is incredible. Members of one part of the aboriginal community, and many of them share the same bloodline, are given almost everything they require and the others are given nothing.

I was employed by the government of Alberta for a period of time to bring self-government to that aboriginal community that was not registered with the Government of Canada. It was part of my responsibility to prepare that aboriginal community for self-government, how to run its own community, how to handle the ownership of property, because the Alberta government did give ownership to a community that had squatted on Crown land for generations.

There is a lot more to it than just a piece of paper and writing things in a statutory way. There are cultural differences. There are lifestyles. There are expectations and emotions. They all become part of being ready for self-government.

My hon. colleague from Wild Rose mentioned that not all of the aboriginal community agree with the direction in which the government is taking them, but they have lost their ability to express their concerns. We forget that it is our job to represent those concerns here before the bill is passed. We try in whatever way we can to say there are concerns and problems but once it is written in statute, it is very hard to undo, to change.

It is going to be very difficult for the people who find themselves somehow left out of this agreement. They are not going to have the same rights as all Canadians. They are not going to have the ability to own land. Many of the people who live on that reserve are not going to be able to vote for the taxes that they are going to be asked to pay, or for the representation that is going to supposedly represent their interests. How are they going to address some of the outfalls of this legislation? It is very important at the end of the day, whether we win or we lose, that this enter into the debate.

It is unparliamentary for members of any party in this House to think or to accuse that there are other motives when an individual, representing whomever, raises issues. Our job is to bring up all the issues and represent all sides of the question.

I would like to express some concerns that I have. Once again, the federal government, as my colleague from Wild Rose said, is rushing to sign on the dotted line to make something statutory. We are not looking far enough down the road and the what direction we should be taking with all Canadians, aboriginal communities and non-aboriginal communities. We should be looking at the broader, bigger picture of equality of all Canadians. We should be making sure that we do not have communities, whether they are aboriginal or non-aboriginal, living in poverty.

I have hands-on experience of the situations about which the member for Wild Rose spoke. I went to communities that I could only fly into. In the wintertime maybe they could drive, if the ground was frozen thick enough. These communities had a health nurse that came maybe every two or three weeks, if the nurse could get in.

I remember arriving at an airport in one community and a man was waiting for a ride out, if he could hitch one. Up in the north people hitch airplane rides, not car rides. He had a gash on his face that was taped together with Scotch tape. It was a deep gash that required stitches, but the health nurse would not be back for another couple of weeks. These people do without the help that we all assume is our right.

I brought potable water into the communities, and treated the water that they used for drinking and cooking purposes. These communities had high incidences of sickness because people were drinking the water from the lakes. In these communities all the houses are built around the lakes. For years, garbage and sewage and whatnot have been going into the lakes. The people drink the water from the lakes or rivers which is a problem.

In trying to deal with their health issues, we were trying to bring them services which we take for granted. Many of these communities do not have roads to connect one community to another. This is what the people want. They want to be able to contribute their opinions and run their communities.

I think the majority of them really do not care about the statutory framework that is being developed by government to allow them to run their communities. These people want to know that they can vote for their representatives. They want to know that they can own property. They want to know that they can develop their communities, develop a fire response team, develop a recreation board, develop good services. They want to be part of that.

They do not want a statutory document stating the parameters, that they will not be able to own their own homes; that we are not going to protect their charter rights, because for whatever reason we might be leaving them out of the charter; that we are not going to guarantee them a democratic government where they get to vote; that we are not going to guarantee any protection for the non-native people who live on the reserve.

I have had first-hand experience where people who had lived on a reserve for 50 years, for two or three generations, automatically overnight were kicked off the reserve for no good reason. No one protected them. It happens. It happened in Musqueam in Vancouver. Situations change overnight and affect the residents.

A statutory declaration or document is not going to protect the people. It may prevent them from developing and growing and running their own community in a natural course of events with people helping them to get to that level without it being a statutory document that encumbers them.

I want to share a story with the House. Senator Walter Twinn represented the area where I spent a good number of my adult years. Walter Twinn's success depended on his finding a loophole in a statutory document that allowed the aboriginal community to get its funds and decision making abilities out from under the control of the federal government. He went on from there to grow his community, to make an income, to hire them to create business and to take his reserve out of poverty. He did it because he found a way to get out of the statutory confinements that were created by the Government of Canada.

I would encourage the government to stop narrowing its thinking by one contract to another and to start looking at the big picture. What do we need to do to free our aboriginal people? I will not make the distinction between registered aboriginals and non-registered aboriginals. To me they all deserve an opportunity to become part of the mainstay of the Canadian population.

I urge the government of the day to think broader, to look longer term and to stop restraining communities through statutory documents.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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March 31, 2004

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this one last time in the House of Commons. This will probably be my last attempt at effecting change from the government.

It is appropriate that the bill that I should be speaking to is one of democratic principles. I ran in 1988 based on the need to bring democratic principles back to the Canadian electoral system. This bill is a result of the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledging that the legislation that the government had put into place was not democratic.

This bill is addressing the decision of the Supreme Court that it was undemocratic to require a party to run 50 candidates in an election. If two people wanted to represent a party to represent a cause, an idea or an issue, that should be allowed as long as there were some other things they managed to do, and that is to show that they had some following and some people agreed with their position.

The bill that has been introduced to address the Supreme Court's decision allows one individual, if that is what it is, with 250 signatures in support and with at least 4 officers representing that party, to run in an election in order to raise the issues.

This is important because in 1987 the Reform Party talked about the need to form a party in order to raise some of the issues on democratic reform, electoral reform, economic reform and judicial reform, and to be held to a certain standard. Putting those ideas out to the population would have been very restrictive. Under the new legislative guidelines that the Liberal government tried to bring in, it is questionable whether the Reform Party of Canada would ever have gotten off the ground.

As I have said, it is very apropos that in my last speech in the House of Commons I should be defending the principles of democratic reform, in that any Canadian who seeks to put ideas before the electorate of change and moving our country forward should not be stopped by legislation in the House.

If anything, we should be opening up the process and that is what Bill C-3 does. It opens up the process so that Canadians have the freedom to express their concerns through the electoral system.

I would like to take this opportunity, as it is my last time in the House, to thank the constituents of South Surrey—White Rock—Langley for their support over the last 10 and a half years. I have been honoured to represent them. I feel I have done a good job on their behalf in the House and on behalf of the Conservative Party, the Canadian Alliance, and the Reform Party before that, in moving forward legislative changes that would give Canadians a greater voice and that would give my constituents a better life in this country.

I want to take the opportunity to thank them and to acknowledge that I could not have done it without their support. I look forward to the days ahead of me where I will continue to live and work in the community.

Perhaps I will be on the other side of the fence putting pressure on the new representative to ensure that change moves forward and that we always strive for what is best for all Canadians and for our country. We should have the courage to look ahead and take the bold steps that are required if we are ever going to deal with some of the most serious problems we have in our country, whether it is on the security issues that we spoke of earlier today or on health care.

I, and a lot of Canadians, have a great fear that 20 years from now we will not have any health care system to speak of. It is essential for the people who sit in the House to have the courage to look at how we can do things differently and in a way that will secure our health care for future generations.

We must also ensure that our country is competitive and that we raise our stature in the international community. We must think big and we must be bold in the steps that we take.

I only hope and wish that the people who replace me here and who move on in the years to come have the courage to do the right thing for all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to thank my constituents and to speak to this bill. I believe it is a good move by the government to recognize the democratic principles that are so important to having a free and democratic country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada Elections Act
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March 31, 2004

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure, as one of my last acts here in Parliament, to present a petition on behalf of some of my constituents.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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