Gerry Ritz                         
Member of Parliament for Battlefords-Lloydminster      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


    2002 Archived Speeches

 

Re-Instatement of Business - October 7, 2021
Alleged Government Corruption - May 23, 2022
Public Works Ad Controversy - April 30, 2002
Bill C-5 Revisited - April 16, 2022
Bill C-5 Species at Risk - February 26, 2022
2002 Budget - February 8, 2022
North Battleford Water Crisis - May 8, 2001

 

Re-Instatement of Business Motion after Prorogation
October 7, 2021

   Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again. This is the first chance we have had to speak in the House since the government prorogued. We are speaking about a motion to reinstate a lot of what it left behind when it decided to shut down the House for two weeks and not address the very serious and important issues that we felt should have been brought to bear here almost immediately. I am talking about the agricultural crisis in Western Canada.

    We see nothing like that in a reinstatement bill here in this motion because the government has totally ignored that crisis. It has tossed some money here and there and an ad hoc program here and there. It is kind of like putting one's finger in a dike which is leaking all the way across. It is just playing fast and loose with agricultural members out there who are taxpayers. They tend to pay their bills and would love to do that, if the government would allow them to and if it would come up with some programs and long term vision that would see some strength put back into fundamental agriculture. It is basic: the guys own the land.

    I will be splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Kelowna.

    Getting back to agriculture, we see two issues in this motion, and it is an omnibus motion. We see the Liberals again envelope in one little motion a huge cross-section of what they have on their wish list that certainly does not resonate with most Canadians out there.

 Agriculture, as I said is in crisis in Saskatchewan and Alberta in the north halves of the provinces where huge amount of agriculture goes on. The Liberals have dedicated $600 million across the country. They did not even prioritize. They did not even send it where it needed to go. The only action we saw that prioritized the need in those two areas was the Hay West campaign, generated by some terrific citizens in Ontario, moving east from Quebec into the Maritimes. They did a great job.

    However, unfortunately the amount of hay that can get through the bureaucratic eye of the needle is maybe 30,000 tonnes. That is not even an appetizer for the cattle herds that we have out west. One RM where my hay land is requires at least 50,000 tonnes all by itself. That is one RM out of 200, 300 or 400 that requires that kind of volume. What goes out from Hay West is equivalent to half of what that RM needs, and there are 300 or 400 more requiring that same sort of commitment.

    Did the government do the right thing? No, it did not. Its own Liberal senator said that it was a joke, an absolute travesty, what the government did not do or recognize.

    The agriculture minister did show up in Saskatchewan but did he get his boots dusty? No. He landed on both ends of where the problem lies, close to an airport, but he did not get out and see the real world. He did not come out through my riding. Politics aside, I offered to take him through to have a look. He just, I guess, did not figure it was worth his time so he did not come.

    We have two other parts of this omnibus motion that deal with agriculture in a huge, negative way. I am talking about Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation. No one with clear common sense thinking in Canada wants to see a species disappear from this country. However, when we look at legislation like this that is so encompassing and is such a horrendous load on primary producers and others folks who work the land, we have to have some sound science.

    I watched a documentary the other night on the spotted owl in British Columbia. There is concern that because some of the lobbying has moved them from an area and so on, they could become an endangered species in Canada. The problem is the vast majority of their nesting grounds is across the line. These owls do not care where the 49th parallel is. We are going to list them as endangered but in some parts across the line they may be a nuisance. That is the problem with legislation like this that is not built or even founded on sound science.

    I hear the peanut gallery chipping over there. It is the only time the backbenchers get.

    Let us get back to Bill C-5 for just one second. The huge stumbling block for those of us in the Alliance is the lack of the wording in the bill, where we want to see compensation based on fair market value. That is just bedrock. No one would see that as the wrong way to go. If people lose access to land, working it, going across it or whatever, they have to have some compensation. They cannot keep on paying taxes on land of which they no longer have any use.  Fair market value compensation is all we are asking. It is a very simple thing to put in.

    A lot of the rural Ontario caucus fell for the line that the government would let the Liberals in the Senate make those changes. It did not happen. It will be now reintroduced, go back over there and it still will not happen because the Liberals do not see that private property rights have to be paramount in any legislation like this. Fair market compensation are three little words that are just a huge stumbling block on that piece of legislation.

    Then we get into Bill C-15B which talks about cruelty to animals. Again, no one out there in rural Canada or in the cities for that matter want to see animals treated cruelly. It is just not done. People of good conscience would never accept that.

    All we are looking for is a couple of little words in the legislation so that proper, acceptable husbandry rules and regulations, which we already have, will be maintained. We cannot get that. Dehorning a cow, or castrating a bull or snipping the tail on a hog has been accepted for years. However the Liberals cannot understand that we have to entrench the basic premise that accepted husbandry practices will continue. It leads to all sorts of nuisance liability suits and everything.

    There are good, free thinking members on the other side. However they are falling for the line that they can support this and some amendments will go through at the Senate. That will not happen because the Senate is not accountable to anybody. Senators are not accountable to the people who never have a chance to elect them. They are accountable to the Prime Minister, just like the ethics counsellor. That leads us into another part.

    Where is the ethics package? Where are the priorities of the government? Rather than reintroducing the flawed, failed legislation of the last session, where is the new stuff? Where is the fresh thinking. Where is the outline, the impact assessment on Kyoto? Where the heck is that? The Liberals have not even thought about that, yet they will ratify it by the end of this year. That is another huge hit to my particular area where any farm that is still open and viable is because of an off farm job relating to the oil patch.

    The Liberals will be hammering these poor folks again just because they will not start to address the bedrock principles of free market. What will the impact be? How many jobs will we lose? How high will the cost of home heating, power and gasoline at the pump go? The Liberals say that we all have to do that for future generations. Certainly, we have to slow down the train when it is running away, but that is being done now. We have already got environmental assessments on every drill site in western Canada and they are doing a great job.

    When we look at everything that is not in the bill, it just screams out to the electorate there that we need a change of government. There are absolutely no fresh ideas in the throne speech. It is a rehash, a mishmash, a reintroduction of a lot of failed initiatives from the last nine years. The Liberals are trying to build a legacy for a Prime Minister whom nobody wants or likes any more. It cannot be done. He is tired out and there is nothing left. There is no direction there

    Last week there was another huge example of a tremendous lack of ethical conduct by a minister of the Crown. Will he be sanctioned? No, he will be covered. He will be covered by the blanket of the ethics counsellor, who reports to the Prime Minister whom the minister supports, one of the last few on the front bench. Will he be given blanket amnesty? Certainly, for hiding behind the fact that it was a company, not the individual. The individual signed it and a partnership says that money that comes into the partnership in which he takes part.

    I have not had time to concentrate on a lot of the things that are mentioned in there. The member who spoke before me from Etobicoke has talked about the drug committee and the wonderful work it is doing. Certainly it is doing wonderful work. Then we have the Senate coming through saying to legalize marijuana. That will not go to the committee.

    He talked about the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca who had his private member's bill hoisted, hijacked in this very House. Private members' business has been hijacked by the government and sent to a committee where it will not be votable. As a private member's bill it was to be votable. It would have come before all of us so that we could represent our constituents. It is gone, hoisted, hijacked and sent to a committee that is still stacked with a number of Liberal members. It is a totally democratic deficit. That is what is wrong in the House, and we will continue to raise those issues

Alleged Government Corruption
May 23, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords--Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is quite a heated debate we are having here today. Certainly the hot air is adding to the climate change the government is working so hard against. We are adding more to it when I hear the pomposity from the other side.

In a recent poll 69% of Canadians said they find the federal government corrupt. We are all here together. The problem is that everybody gets tarred with the same brush. Out of 301 people there are bound to be a few bad apples. We have seen evidence of that in the last little while. Some 69% of Canadians hold us in contempt for the jobs we are not doing here on their behalf. That is despicable and we have to rightly clean that up. The job of the official opposition is to hold the government to account and to bring to the light of day a lot of the things that are wrongheaded and going in the wrong direction.

Out west we had evidence of that from a couple of terms ago with Bill C-68, the firearms bill. A cost of $85 million was talked about. It is now 10 times that and growing and we still have seen absolutely no results.

The Liberals' own pollsters would tell them it is not working to the extent they thought it would so people hold us in contempt. We are all tarred with the same brush. We start to bring programs like that into the light of day and point out the problems with them. We amend things in committee but they never get adopted. We have private members' business that has gone south. Many members over there are nodding their heads because that is their avenue to get their issues before the House of Commons and they have been stymied as well. They cannot seem to get them through and when they do, there might be an hour of debate and then it is scrapped, it is gone. The item cannot be made votable.

We are all caught in that. That leads to low voter turnout. If we look at the last federal election and some of the by\elections, there has been low voter turnout. People have written off the federal government system. They see that we are incorrigible and we are corruptible and they write us all off. They flush us all with the same bath water which is unfortunate.

The Liberals did not like those numbers so they had their own pollster do a poll talking about just their party because certainly it could not be them. That poll showed that 45% of Canadians polled blame it on the front bench, the executive of the federal government. That is unfortunate but there are things we can do about it.

The members opposite today have been saying we are not fulfilling the role of the official opposition, that we are not bringing to the light of day agriculture issues, softwood lumber, health care and so on. I heard the senior minister for Saskatchewan on a radio talk show last week. We cannot put on the air shows that we usually have. Moose Jaw has a huge air show. Usually 45,000 to 50,000 people go to it. The one in Saskatoon is just starting to grow with 30,000 to 35,000 people who come to see it. There are other ones across the country. They cannot afford the liability insurance that is now demanded to put those shows on. The government House leader said on the radio that the government cannot afford that because it is working so diligently putting all of the money into agriculture, the softwood file and health care.

Nobody in the agriculture sector has seen any money. The member opposite who just spoke said it is because of the Liberal backbench that farmers were saved. I guess now we know who to blame. If it is the Liberal backbench that gave us AIDA and CFIP and took the money out of crop insurance, then it is their fault. It was not the minister of agriculture after all, it is the backbench. How ridiculous.

Money has been gutted out of health care but we still have no money for a lot of other programs. The softwood lumber file bubbled away for five years and here we are paying a 27.2% tariff. Five years slipped by. The government did not change but a few of the faces over there did. The same folks let it percolate for five years and here we are with a problem. If that is their attention to agriculture, softwood and health care, no wonder people hold us in contempt and say that we are incorrigible and they want to make some changes.

The Prime Minister today announced a new glorious program that will make everything better. He will bring in some more rules and add some more legislation. Many of those are common sense and we cannot disagree with some of them but those same promises were made in 1993 in the first red book. Nobody ever delivered on those.

Where is this ethics commissioner who was going to be independent and table his reports with parliament? It did not happen. We finally got an ethics counsellor with basically a set of training wheels for the front bench. He does not report to anybody but the Prime Minister because that is who hired him.
 

 

Public Works Ad Contract Controversy
April 30, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords--Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House and take another shot at the Liberals on their spending priorities.

    This stems from a question that I asked on April 17. I asked the public works minister about an un-tendered contract, if I can use those terms, for Health Canada telecommunications training.

    The contract was signed on March 31 which is the end of the fiscal year. To get that $300,000 contract in place the government had to really rush it through. The quirky part is that the training was stipulated to be delivered on that same day. That was physically impossible.

    The public works minister said in his reply that this was not an outrageous abuse of taxpayers' money. That was my assertion. He said the government followed closely the rules in contracting and processing the payment and so on. However, the auditor general, in looking over that same program, said that the contracting process was not open, it did not qualify for any exceptions that would close the process as the minister was claiming.

    Health Canada misidentified the requirement as R and D which it was not and thereby threw off any other bidders. Health Canada had no idea if it was going after any kind of value at all in that by delivering it in one day.

    As a contracting authority public works was cited by the auditor general for indulging in split contracts on some other things, that it lowered contracts to the $25,000 no tender required system and slammed a bunch of those through.

    In answer to my second question the public works minister stated that there was no overpayment and so on. That is not what we were citing. We were citing an abuse of taxpayers' money, $300,000. March madness spending during the last day of the fiscal year by ramming through a contract that had to be delivered that same day. As I said, it was physically impossible.

    The public works minister said no overpayment was made in regard to that contract for $300,000, but then he failed to mention in that same report that in $6.5 million of contracts that his own department audited, $800,000 in overpayments was found out of $6.5 million.

    Then we started to get concerned about that extra $300,000 that was not part of that particular go around. It made us scratch our heads as to where taxpayers' money was being spent with these guys.

    In the second question, I asked the minister if there was a quote that the program did not address the requirement to properly control and manage government assets. The auditor general agreed with that in her response.

    The minister in replying to that part of the question said that policies were followed very closely. The auditor general said no. He said his department followed the approved policy using the advanced contract award notice. The auditor general again said no, the 15 days were not posted.

    In addition, and perhaps most important, there was no overpayment in this regard. We did not specify overpayment. The overpayment came out of the other $6.5 million in public works where there were overpayments of $800,000. It did not address the $300,000 at all.

    The auditor general said that the advance contract award notice was not used, the 15 days did not happen, and Treasury Board guidelines were not followed. The auditor general called this another example of non-compliance with government regulations.

    Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going and why the Liberal government thinks it can get away with that type of expenditure at the eleventh hour of the last day of the budget year, and then not have any requirement that those goods were ever delivered.

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond on behalf of the government to the hon. member for Battlefords--Lloydminster in regard to the audit note by the auditor general on the government contracting rules and regulations related to the development of the Canadian Health Network.

    As the Minister of Public Works and Government Services indicated in the House on April 17, the department followed very closely the rules in regard to the Canadian Health Network contract. Furthermore, I can assure the member that the department respected the departmental policy with respect to advanced contract award notices or ACANs as they are called.

    The Department of Public Works and Government Services is known in government as a common service provider. Its role is to provide essential goods and services needed by more than 140 government departments and agencies to fulfill their mandates to Canadians. It aims to provide the best value for government, taking into account public policy of the day and of course with due regard to probity, prudence and transparency.

    For each procurement the department undertakes, it will make every reasonable effort to satisfy the operational needs of its clients while obtaining best value in the procurement process.

    The Department of Public Works and Government Services is accountable for the integrity of the procurement process including ensuring that actions taken are in compliance with accepted government policies or legislation. These contracting objectives and principles clearly support the government's commitment to ensure best value for taxpayer dollars through a procurement process that is open, fair and accessible.

    The Department of Public Works and Government Services managed more than $10.5 billion in government-wide procurement opportunities in 2001, resulting in more than 58,000 contracts for suppliers. This is an enormous volume of contracting work, yet only 75 complaints have been filed against the department with the Canadian International Trade Tribunal. What is even more revealing is that only six of those complaints have been declared valid.

    Here is another impressive measure of the integrity of the department's contracting activities. In the year 2000, on a dollar value basis, 92% of Government of Canada contracts were awarded competitively; 70% through tender and 22% through the ACANs process. Only 8% of contracts were non-competitive.

    In the audit note, the auditor general made a number of observations regarding, among other things, contracting matters related to the management of the Canadian Health Network, which led to the creation of a large health information tool based on Internet technology.

    We disagree with the auditor general's report in a number of areas, namely the suggestion that the department has improperly used ACANs. The department followed the approved policy, issuing ACANs where only one company was capable of performing the work.

    Another issue raised in the auditor general's report is the reference to the $300,000 for the development, installation and testing of a pilot telecommunications system to be completed by March 31, 1998. On this matter I would like to specify that the department did question Health Canada on how the work could be delivered in time and did receive a satisfactory answer. The department was informed that the bulk of the requirement was a capital equipment purchase to be delivered by the end of that month.

    This was a competitive contract. An ACAN was posted on March 13, 1998, closing on March 20, 1998, and there was no challenge. This was documented on file but somehow was overlooked by the office of the auditor general.

    The auditor general also raised the fact that PWGSC audits of contracts indicated significant over-claims. On that issue, the department did monitor the claims submitted by all contractors as part of its contract management responsibilities.

    In conclusion, PWGSC is committed to a fair, open and transparent procurement process. It continually strives for excellence in its procurement practices and indeed in all its activities.  

 

Bill C-5 Revisited
April 16, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords--Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House and again take part in the debate on Bill C-5. The bill has been introduced three times in three different parliaments. It was first introduced two parliaments ago.

    I have gone through some of the notes written at the time. We talk about the relevance of Bill C-5. It encountered the same problems when it failed the first time. It encountered them again when it failed in the 36th parliament. It is encountering them yet again. I cannot understand why the same government is in power. It has had three kicks at the can with the bill. There are still 139 amendments coming forward. Today we are dealing with Group No. 4. How can the government get it so wrong three times in a row? It boggles my mind.

    This species at risk legislation would put at risk not only animals, plants, spiders and all those creepy crawly things but farmers, ranchers, oil patch workers, miners, woodlot owners and all the people who work the land in an environmentally sound way. There is already legislation in place. With Bill C-5 the biggest species at risk would be the taxpayer, the ordinary Canadian doing his darnedest to make a living and keep the bank and the tax man off his back. Legislation like this would add to the regulatory burden and take the wind out of people's sails who are trying to be entrepreneurial and move ahead. I cannot understand it.

    Bill C-5 would expand ministerial discretion. It creates a shudder effect through most of Canadian society when people see bills like Bill C-68, the obnoxious firearms bill. I thank the Liberal government for giving me more cannon fodder to use in the next election. The government is assuring my re-election with this legislation.

    At the end of the day Bill C-5 would not serve the community. It would not serve the interests of Canadian taxpayers or the species they are trying to support.

    There are three ministers in control of the issue: the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Canadians have concerns about these ministers when it comes to preserving their discretionary power.

    Under Bill C-5 the minister alone would decide whether compensation was given and how much it would be. The government has budgeted $45 million to implement the legislation. Bill C-68 was budgeted at $85 million. Can members guess where it is now? The numbers we have obtained through access to information requests indicate it is 10 times that amount.

    Bill C-5 would be another huge waste of taxpayer money. It would be another boondoggle to add to the notches in the government's bedpost. It flies in the face of everything a democracy stands for. There would be a total lack of transparency in reporting. Ministerial reports including listing decisions would be deleted. There would be no requirement for them. The minister could make changes arbitrarily. We have seen it done under other legislation. The government will keep doing it because it has the power. We can only shake our heads.

    When will the Canadian people get the idea that these guys are not an effective government? Bill C-5 has no sunset clause. There is no mandatory review period, something that should be standard for any new legislation like this. We should be able to ask whether it is working. Whether it entails a three year or five year period, something must be put in legislation to indicate whether it is on the right track. The government is definitely not on the right track.

    Under Bill C-5 politics rather than science would decide what was in danger. Every Canadian wants species to be protected but the legislation offers no effective means of doing that. That is why there are 139 amendments even though the government has had three kicks at it. Nothing has changed.

    As I have said, a budget of $45 million is inadequate when we consider the different types of compensation. When we in the Alliance talk about compensation we mean market value compensation. The committee came up with the same recommendations. The all party committee made up of backbench Liberals and five parties from this side of the House came up with great recommendations. However the minister and a few of his henchmen on the front bench, probably the same three I named, said they would not do it the committee's way because they had a better idea. Their idea might give them more power, clout and budget money but it will not at the end of the day protect any species, especially the poor Canadian taxpayer.

 

Bill C-5 Species at Risk Act
Feb 26, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords--Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk act. This is the third or fourth try by the government to bring the legislation to the floor. It seems to create more controversy than substance in a lot of these situations.

    Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Greenpeace, was speaking at the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association meeting in February. He said:

I made the transition from the politics of confrontation to the politics of building consensus.

    That is a tremendous quote. That is exactly what the government should be doing with legislation like this. It needs to build consensus with the provinces, landowners, land users and so on in order to make this type of legislation palatable.

    Mr. Moore is a native of Vancouver Island. He went on to say that the federal government's proposed species at risk act should be a positive program that should reward not punish farmers for living near these species. He is absolutely right. That is at the crux of the debate. He stated that costs for such programs should be borne equally by both urban and rural people. We all want to protect these species at risk.

    This fellow has the right idea on this legislation. He has seen situations where people on Vancouver Island spent huge amounts of time and energy saving eagles. They did it; it worked out very well. They were able to bring back that population of eagles. It is just tremendous to watch them flying around.

    The unintended consequence was that the eagles started feeding en masse on blue heron nests. The blue heron was of course an endangered species. They corrected one problem and the eagles started redirecting their feeding habits on to the blue herons so that now they have another problem on their hands. It looks like mother nature is more than able to take care of a lot of this on her own and when people get involved we have these unintended consequences.

    I woke up the other morning to the radio and the announcer was talking about flocks of up to 4,000 crows around the city. Everybody knows that a crow is a bit of a pest. They do not just wake us up early. These birds are predators that feed on songbirds. They feed on the nests and the young. We have saved the crows. We are not allowed to shoot them any more or use poisons. Now we have these huge flocks of crows feeding on songbirds, the very birds we want to entertain and bring into the city. When we start to muddle with things there can be unintended consequences.

    SARM, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, is having its annual meeting coming up between March 4 and March 6. There are a number of resolutions that have come forward that speak to these unintended consequences.

    I know that my counterpart from Selkirk--Interlake this morning talked about a Ducks Unlimited project that was having an adverse effect on areas of his land. He has less hay land to farm. He has plovers that are now endangered because their habitat is being flooded.

    We see loons in Saskatchewan being moved off Lake Diefenbaker where the water rises and lowers so much because of the dam at the head of it that there is not a loon population there any more. We have seen adverse effects and unintended consequences.

    The RM of Rodgers submitted one resolution. It claimed that some municipalities were concerned about the risk of prairie fires that non-grazed or uncut long grasses presented, and neither the RM Act nor the Prairie Forest Fire Act gave the RM specific authority to direct owners of such land to create or maintain satisfactory fire guards to prevent the spread of fires. They wanted the act to be changed so that the RM would have some intent or some excuse to go in and look after that.

    That is directed at some of the areas that are going back to habitat, that species can then carry on in.

    There was a resolution submitted by the RM of Three Lakes. It claimed that the best use for arable land in Saskatchewan was for agricultural purposes. Much of the land owned by Ducks Unlimited and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation had uncontrolled weed growth, and non-arable land was much better suited for the purpose of Ducks Unlimited and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. They wanted some laws or some sort of regulatory body to control where Ducks Unlimited and the wildlife federation could expand.

    We are having problems with weed growth in some of these untended areas where the seeds are blowing out across the rest of the arable land and creating a problem. The species at risk bill does cover grasses and weeds as well so there are unintended consequences there.

    The last resolution came from the RM of Langenburg and the RMs of Spy Hill and Churchbridge. They claimed that the municipal land tax base was gradually being eroded by the conversion of agricultural land to wildlife habitat whereas the North American waterfowl management plan, and that is what the member for Selkirk--Interlake was talking about, identified five million acres of land in western Canada that was to be returned to wildlife habitat. That is not all bad. We do have an excess of crop grown in our country.

 

2002 Budget Implementation
Feb 8, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of rhetoric from the Liberal side especially about balanced budgets for the last five years. If Canadians did the math they would realize that these guys have been in power for seven, going on eight years now. The first year was a little tough. A big deficit was brought forward and the Liberals had to deal with that, although they did it in certain ways we did not agree with. Then they kind of missed a few years. Probably the reason was there was no budget. A lot of us missed the chance to harangue them last year when they did not bring one down.

Since that time the loonie has basically tanked. There are a couple of quotes by the new Liberal member, the member for Richmond, which I would like to share with folks. On December 11 just after the budget came down he talked about the Liberals strangling the Canadian economy. That is his quote. He also talked about condemning Canada to a bargain basement dollar. I wonder if he still shares those ideals with folks now that he sits in that caucus. It would be very interesting to be involved in some of their caucus discussions to see if that is still the rule.

In balancing the budget, which the Liberals claim they have done, a few things stand out as glaring errors or omissions in the numbers that have kind of been fudged to make that happen. An EI surplus of almost $40 billion has disappeared. There is no money in that account. It went into general revenues. Some $30 billion has grown legs and walked away from the civil service pension plan. In that same timeframe, $25 billion has been pulled out of health care and social transfers to the provinces. Add that up and there is $95 billion of funny money creative accounting to help balance the budget.

We always have to pay the piper. Somewhere down the line we will have to put some of that money back in. Where is it going to come from? We are barely squeaking by now. We saw a surplus this year of $1.5 billion. That is not going to cover a $95 billion asset that will have to be put back at some point in the future.

In its political spin, the government branded it as a security budget. Canadians do not feel very secure with the economy in the tank like it is. The government branded it as a security budget, yet just days before the budget came down, the auditor general in her report talked about $16.5 billion of wasted, mismanaged spending in various government departments.

The auditor general pointed out that defence alone needed $2 billion to get ratcheted back up to a standard that would not leave us limping behind places like Luxembourg and other world powers such as that. The auditor general called for $2 billion. What did the government deliver? Two hundred million dollars.

It is a pittance compared to what the armed forces need, especially now that we have sent them off to Afghanistan in funny coloured uniforms, with half of their equipment stuck in Germany which cannot find its way to Afghanistan. They are borrowing rations from the Americans. They are rationing water. We are one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to clean water and our troops over there have to ration it because we cannot get their supplies to them. The government has absolutely ridiculous accounting practices. Our troops do not have stoves and they are bumming candles from the Americans to heat their borrowed food.

They have rigged up latrines out of fuel barrels, planks and tarps. It is a co-ed army. I am sure some of the ladies are doing an exemplary job by simply being over there. Our troops are limping along because the Liberals will not supply them with what they need to get the job done in a way which lets them hold their heads high. Our troops are doing a tremendous job.

In talking about government priorities, one of the major priorities over the last number of years has been the long gun registry. The Liberals have put between $650 million and $800 million into that bogus program, depending on whose numbers one looks at, and only $200 million into the military. They are targeting the wrong folks. Let us get the money to where it is needed. If we are going to fight a war on terrorism, let us target the terrorists, not the farmers and duck hunters.

As I said, the auditor general pointed out there is over $16.5 billion in waste and mismanagement across this great country. That is a huge statement. Not one thin dime of that was addressed in the budget. It all disappeared. There is no consensus or drive by the government to find out where that money went and whether we are getting a bang for our taxpayer dollar. The auditor general says no, that it is very questionable. Canadians are saying it is very questionable.

There is a lot of talk about the Minister of Finance forwarding the big tax program he talked about just before the fall 2000 election. People should look at their January paycheques. I looked at mine and my net pay is down. No one is going to cry for a member of parliament; we are overpaid and under-worked. My paycheque is down so that tells me that all the folks whom I represent are facing the same dilemma.  

 

North Battleford Water Crisis
May 8, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I rise today as the MP who covers the area of North Battleford where we are having our latest outbreak of problem water. I will read the motion that my colleague from Fundy—Royal put forward for people who have just joined us. It states:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should act with the provinces and territories to establish enforceable national drinking water standards that would be enshrined in a Safe Water Act.

When I look at this motion, I have a certain amount of trepidation in voting positively for it. People at home are crying out. There is a demand and a need for safe water across the country.

We have a myriad of standards at this point. There are over 79 guidelines in the Canadian drinking water quality, 54 of which are health based, 17 are based on aesthetics, which is colour, taste and so on, and another 8 have a combination of the two. As I said, I talk about this with some trepidation. This is a provincial jurisdiction. We really have to get beyond the politics and look at the end of the day to what is best for the common good of ordinary Canadians who are demanding safe and secure water supplies across the country.

There is a myriad of examples where there are problems. Senator Grafstein has a bill in the Senate at this time. He has identified 700 communities, and he says there are probably more, that have problems with water. At any given time there are 5,000 communities across the country that have boil water advisories out.

We have to look at the concentrations of livestock and some of the weather related problems. Part of the problem in North Battleford is that the river content is very low at this time. Compound that with the sewer pump that is on the wrong end of the town and there is a recipe for disaster.

A tremendous amount of studies have been done. Currently we have national standards but they are not binding. The problem as I see it is that there is a tremendous disconnect between the standards we have and the testing that is required.

The problem with the testing is that it is very expensive. The procedures are very costly. The fancy name is cryptosporidium, which is the little bug in the water in North Battleford. Testing for that requires tankers of water to be taken to the provincial lab, which is 300 or 400 kilometres away. That is done on an ongoing basis. It is cost prohibitive.

The other option is to have a chemical engineer or a biologist on staff, which of course for a community of 15,000 again is cost prohibitive. There has to be some sort of national, provincial and municipal co-operation.

The Minister of Transport made a comment the other day. He stated “The government believes the improvement of our drinking water supply and sewage treatment is an utmost priority.” That is what he said. The health minister, in a comment to my question to him yesterday in this place, said that there was nothing more important than public safety, that we really had to spend money on our crumbling infrastructure and that $56 million had been allocated to Saskatchewan.

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