|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Protection for Rural Canada
Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has no respect for rural Canada. Instead of enshrining property rights, it is eroding them. It is delivering less than 60¢ of each $1 of farm aid promised and Ontario just cut agricultural funding by 23%.
Why does the government refuse to respect the contribution that rural Canada makes to this country?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely and totally inaccurate. In fact, it is this party that respects rural Canada. It is this party that understands the importance of developing policy and an approach specifically tailored to rural Canada.
We see that in terms of our regional development agencies which that party rejects. We see that in terms of our infrastructure support which that party rejects. We see that in terms of our community futures program which provides access to capital for rural businesses and that party rejects that. Canadians clearly understand that we are the protectors and promoters of rural Canada.
Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to have policies. They have to be put into practice.
Rural Canada accounts for fully 40% of our exports. This is a huge economic contribution to our nation's well-being. Despite drought, frost, border closures and infestations, first the Liberal budget and now the NDP-Liberal budget only have money for more bureaucrats and consultants for these sectors.
Why does the Liberal government, along with its NDP allies, refuse to respect those of us from rural Canada?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, is it bureaucrat money only? A billion dollars of new assistance has been authorized for payment to producers and already three weeks after that announcement was made more than $700 million was actually paid out to producers. That is in addition to the $1.3 billion that has been paid out to producers under the CAIS program.
Opposition members criticize and suggest that the money is not flowing to producers. They are wrong. It is. The money is--
The Speaker: The hon. member for North Vancouver.