Wayne EASTER

EASTER, The Hon. Wayne, P.C., Dipl.T., LL.D.(Hon.)

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
Birth Date
June 22, 1949
Website
http://wayneeaster.com
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=a76af2a6-7a43-4f8f-a887-0d10b3a0a3c1&Language=E&Section=ALL
Email Address
wayne.easter@parl.gc.ca
Profession
farmer

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (July 10, 1997 - August 31, 1999)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
  • Solicitor General of Canada (October 22, 2002 - December 11, 2003)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food with special emphasis on Rural Development (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food with special emphasis on Rural Development (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
May 2, 2011 - August 2, 2015
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)
October 19, 2015 -
LIB
  Malpeque (Prince Edward Island)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 588 of 589)


February 3, 1994

Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque)

Mr. Speaker, I might say in the beginning that embarking on this major comprehensive change to the social safety net is a bold and much needed move by the new government. I pleased with the process that the Minister of Human Resources Development has established which will involve people in terms of those discussions.

As well I might point out that in this initiative, along with the first budget of the new Liberal government, we must demonstrate to all Canadians this is a new government with a new agenda which places jobs and opportunities for all Canadians first and foremost.

While taking control over the deficit and debt is critical, we must not fall victim to the neo-conservative obsession of the past nine years which has directly contributed to the current crisis in Canada in terms of job losses, social unrest, increased poverty and disillusionment throughout the country.

It will be important for this government to outline to Canadians the limits within which we as government can work with respect to developing new made in and for Canada economic and social policies, especially so given the various trade agreements in which we now find ourselves.

For example, we have to address the issue in the very near future of the kind of federal provincial transfer system which will provide the critical social infrastructures for most provinces. As a nation and as a government we must ensure that all Canadians have equal access to programs under those economic and social policies that we implement.

Professor Tom Courchesne, a proponent of free trade, pointed out that an east-west transfer system does not square well with north-south economic integration. If Courchesne is correct, the future of our ability to provide for the means of our critical social programs throughout Canada could be at risk.

Our economy is still having to adjust to the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and is now faced with both NAFTA and GATT. Canadians do not want this government to merely administer trade policies negotiated by the previous government, they want a proactive government which will ensure that policies emerging from these trade deals reflect Canadian needs, not just the economic and foreign interests of our neighbour to the south.

The Prime Minister has stated clearly that he will operate on these deals in the interests of Canadians.

As members in this House, we must be forever vigilant that economic trade agreements do not force us to the lowest common denominators in social programs under the guise of economic competition. We must work toward bringing up the social, labour and environmental standards of the United States and Mexico, our trading partners, and not buckle under to the pressure of reducing our own programs.

Let me turn for a moment to what is perhaps one of the greatest social tragedies in this country over the last nine to twelve years, the farm financial crisis.

I want to try and put that in some kind of context in terms of where we are coming from and where we are going and what we have to do to offer some hope for the future.

I maintain it is a real serious social tragedy in our rural areas. The farm crisis, to a great extent for political and global trade reasons, has become accepted to a great extent around the world. It has become almost normal in our society to hear of farmers going broke and governments really not doing much about it. This acceptance ignores the reality in personal terms in which farmers and farm families and farm communities find themselves.

Let me put that into perspective. In 1988, after eight years of farm crisis in this country, the House of Commons in its agricultural committee report talked about a debt of $22 billion. After implementing the Farm Debt Review Board, farm adjustment program and other subsidies, in 1992 we found ourselves after the loss of thousands of farmers still in debt to the tune of $23.9 billion.

How serious is this? It is very serious. It means that if we were farmers in this room, if you looked one person to your left and one person to your right, one of you would be in serious financial trouble, faced with the possibility of losing your farm. That is the kind of situation we find ourselves in today.

In my province of Prince Edward Island in 1991, according to census figures, we had 2,361 farmers, a decline of 16.7 per cent since 1986 and a 48 per cent decline of farmers since 1971. Are we any better off today because we have lost these farmers? No, we are not. We have deteriorating communities, a deteriorating base on which to base community programs, rinks, social affairs, educational systems and so on, a very serious matter.

How do we put a human face on these figures in terms of social problems? It is an issue that you really cannot understand unless you have experienced it. I call it economic violence, a loss of pride in terms of those farmers affected, a feeling of failure, increasing farm suicides, increasing family split-ups as a result of this very serious economic problem at the farm gate.

Even with these facts and figures we continue to see over the last nine years, coming out of Agriculture Canada and the Government of Canada, an acceptance that we must follow the trend that the market should make all decisions. We are seeing that increasingly so in the new era of globalization.

There are some who would say on the other side of the House that the free market should decide all things. I disagree very strongly with that and I hope we do as a government.

Some people will say let us be competitive. Let us look a little deeper into this competitive approach for a moment. What is the nature of competition? Basically, the nature of competition is that you get into an economic game and your objective is to destroy the competitor. In the current kind of trade and economic policy that we are moving toward in terms of these globalized trade agreements, the object of the game is to pit farmer against farmer in communities, between countries, between provinces, across borders, in a game of trying to lower your prices in order to access the market and in the process destroy that farmer in that other area.

That is not the answer. We must move forward with economic and social programs that bring in regulatory control, put in place marketing programs like the Canadian Dairy Commission, the Poultry Marketing Board, the Canadian Wheat Board, to implement agricultural policy in the interests of rural Canada and farmers.

The approach that has been going on for the last nine or ten years is leading to greater and greater exploitation and I believe to competitive poverty.

I do not believe it has to be this way. We must restore, as a new government, a sense of direction and a sense of purpose. As I mentioned a moment ago, we can introduce marketing programs. We can, through our power as a federal government, expand and strengthen farm debt review boards to deal with these cases that are in serious financial trouble.

This is one member who is going to work toward those objectives.

I do not believe we can allow the pressure to adapt and adjust to the blind blameless free market on a global basis to deter us from doing what is right in terms of the social and economic future of rural Canada and Canadians.

There are a number of other areas that I had hoped to speak on for a moment but I see that I am out of time so I will sit down and receive questions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Social Security System
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January 31, 1994

Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque)

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Department of Transport under the previous administration initiated a study into air transport navigation systems across Canada.

One of the outcomes will be the possible replacement of air traffic control operators at a number of airports with flight service stations. My concern is that Charlottetown is one airport so targeted. Any reduction in essential services at airports is often perceived as a safety factor. The government must demonstrate that cost reduction will not impact upon safety.

I am therefore calling upon the Minister of Transport to ensure that before any action is taken as a result of this review all stakeholders on the island will be consulted. After all, we should not be following the agenda of the previous government but correcting the mistakes it made.

Therefore it is an absolute must that we consult with all parties affected before government decisions.

Topic:   Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31
Subtopic:   Air Safety
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January 27, 1994

Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque)

Mr. Speaker, I want to agree with the hon. member's comment that the social economic condition is extremely important to health care. The Minister of Human Resources Development is certainly looking at ways of improving the social safety net and making better use of every dollar spent.

The hon. member made a comment that I am intrigued and curious about. It was along the lines that a return trip to Ottawa is at a cost, I think implying that the trips of MPs and others coming to Ottawa that you leave dollars here and it is a drain.

The perception is that Ottawa is English Canada and it is a drain on all the taxpayers of Canada. Now I am not a lover of the bureaucracy by any means, I am a critic of it and we have to make improvements there.

However has the hon. member given any thought or does she know the economic spinoff in terms of the central government's efforts, Parliament and all the ministries, that go to Hull as a result? What would the losses be to Hull and to the province of Quebec if the Bloc ever got its desire to separate Quebec from Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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January 27, 1994

Mr. Easter

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the last part of the questioner's comments. The record certainly will show what was said. What I copied down was that the minister was being accused of negotiations to eliminate the tariffs.

That is the opposite of what the Minister of Agriculture is trying to do. I want to emphasize that fact. The minister is very much in negotiations with the secretary of agriculture for the United States and is very definitely trying to negotiate an agreement to keeps tariffs high, which is our right and should be our right under the GATT. That is exactly what he is trying to do. He is trying to have them high enough to keep our supply managed system in place, in tact and secure.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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January 27, 1994

Mr. Easter

Mr. Speaker, certainly in terms of the GATT negotiations the retaining and the strenghthening of article XI(ii)(c) was the preferred direction of the government. It ended up that it was not in the cards. What we tried to achieve at that time was the tariffication approach and to establish very high tariffs to protect our supply management industry.

The agreement does not come into place until July or August 1995. That gives us some time in order to meet with the supply management groups and other groups and to set up the system in such a way that we can have a growing and prosperous industry in the future. The supply management system in Canada, I believe and we believe as a government, is a model for the world. It provides a high quality product at reasonable prices to consumers and is a great food security policy.

The minister of agriculture is very committed in his discussions with the secretary of agriculture of the United States to trying to achieve the objectives we set out during the election of protecting and enhancing the supply management system.

It is a difficult job. We were left with negotiations when so much had been given away by the previous administration. It is a very difficult negotiation, but I believe the minister of agriculture will prevail and the supply management system will indeed survive.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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