Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC): Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.
I rise tonight in this 38th Parliament to speak once again on behalf of both my rural and my urban constituents on the issue of BSE. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo publicly for their vote of confidence in sending me back to be their voice in Ottawa.
Since May 20, 2003 I have spoken often about a specific need not being met by government: a solution to the BSE crisis. The situation is becoming more and more serious with each passing day.
In 2003 there were 28 cattle ranchers that declared bankruptcy. For the first six months of 2004 there have been 32 and one can only imagine what the last six months of the year will bring. These are not just statistics. These are real people who work very hard to make a living. They deserve a government that works equally as hard to ensure their future success.
A live weight steer that would have fetched $1.60 a pound two years ago at auction may get up to 65¢ per pound. That is a huge discrepancy between what was happening before and what is happening now.
Farmers are having to take outside jobs to keep their farms going and that leaves the farms to deteriorate. The feed farmers are not selling their feed because the ranchers simply cannot afford to buy it.
In my own riding we have had a double whammy. We had forest fires last year. There was no production of feed. Everything was burned and we relied on the good graces of the people from Wild Rose county in Alberta to get us through a very tough summer. We are very grateful for that, but we have to look toward the future.
I have told the House before what the impact has been. Independent self-sufficient ranches that have survived for 100 years have suddenly been brought to their knees by a government that is incompetent. What has the government done? The answer is next to nothing, unless we count the excuses, the press releases and the head patting that has gone on which the Liberals think passes for progress.
We are talking about people, livelihoods, lifestyles and the Liberals are talking about covering their backsides. How callous can they possibly get. This is yet another industry in Canada where we can hear the flushing as we speak. We have to do more than we have done to date.
The Liberals talk about a consultation process, but it did not take place. The proof of that lies in the results. The Conservative Party has consulted and it has done so with those who produce. If we want answers and we want to know what the problems are and we want to know what the solutions are, it is imperative that we speak directly to the people who are affected. The government has not done that. It says it has, but it has not.
Those who have been completely overlooked in this disastrous situation, aside from the cattle ranchers, are ranchers who produce other ruminants. It has been 16 months with no recognition from the government side for those people who raise goats, sheep and a variety of other ruminants. Those people have had absolutely no say in their future and have had absolutely no input into what the government is planning to do.
We are not talking about a few dozen head here. We are talking about two million head. To not even discuss this situation with them is very serious.
We have to ask ourselves a question in Canada: Are we going to be independent producers of our own food or are we not? One of my constituents who is a sheep rancher told me that his own son is having second thoughts about carrying on the family tradition. The reason for this is not that he has lost his love for the family ranch; it is that he has lost even the most minuscule amount of faith in a government that has let this happen to his family and to hundreds of thousands of other families.
It is time to wake up. We have to do something fast and we have to do something serious or we are in jeopardy of losing yet another industry in this country. A government that would allow that to happen is not fit to govern.
Press Releases |