* * *
39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 068
October 24, 2006
Canadian Wheat Board Act
please. I would invite all hon. members, including cabinet ministers,
to carry on any conversations that they may wish to continue outside
the chamber so the rest of us can get on with the private members'
business that is before the House.
Speaker, it is good to be here this afternoon and to speak again to
this bill that was brought forward by the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster
This is one of the most progressive bills we have had in the House and
I say that even though I am on the government side.
bill would allow producers to come forward and sell their grain
directly to any kind of a processing organization that is controlled or
owned by producers themselves. We think this is necessary. It is a
tremendous advancement for western Canadian farmers. What could be
better than producers finally taking their own product and selling it
to processing plants in which they can have a share. The producers can
value add that way.
farmers across Canada take these kinds of opportunities for granted,
but not western Canadian producers because they are prohibited from
doing this. This bill would deal with that situation and help them to
have the same advantages and opportunities that others do.
real disgrace here is that the opposition is, apparently, going to
oppose the bill. I do not understand why they would. The member for Malpeque
has said that he wants to give farmers a bigger role in the
marketplace. This bill would do that. It gives a tremendous opportunity
NDP members seem to have been taken over by the big city unions. They
said at one time that they used to represent the little guy but
obviously they do not and they are showing that one more time by
opposing this bill.
Bloc, unfortunately, has jumped on this bandwagon by mistake. I do not
think that party understands the implications of the bill.
it is important for western Canadian farmers to have this opportunity.
We are certainly calling on the House to support the bill because we
think it would finally bring forward some of the value added activities
that we need in this country.
do not know if I can stress how important this is to western Canadian
farmers, to our small towns and to our cities to have value added
plants, to participate in the ownership of those plants and to deliver
their product directly to them. It is a shame that we cannot do that
right now. I think we are only asking for what everyone else in this
country has. We look forward to the time when we will have that.
this bill comes to a vote I call on all members of the House to please
support it. I beg the opposition members to reconsider their opposition
to it. They have taken a bad position but hopefully they will change
their minds and support the bill and help the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster
to actually move ahead and give our farmers the opportunities they need.
Mr. Speaker, pulling on the thread of stability
means the seam of prosperity the Wheat Board provides will be destroyed.
has, as its hidden intent, the goal of dividing and conquering, which
would lead farmers to go head to head against the multinational
corporations. Can anyone Imagine individual farmers competing directly
with international cartels for rail cars?
has been said that the bill would do in 12 weeks what the Americans
have been trying to do for 12 years: destroy the Wheat Board.
farmers of Canada have questioned, what? First, the CWB and then supply
management. It is not far-fetched to assume that this is the logical
progression. There is definitely a hidden agenda at play.
Ken Larsen writes:
| Two American firms (Cargill
and Tyson) slaughter and
package 90% of Canada's beef. A handful of millers process wheat into
flour. Three grocery chains control over 70% of the retail grocery
market. These giant companies are the customers that thousands of
individual farmers must deal with to sell their product.
| The now chronic farm income
crisis is largely a
manifestation of this imbalance between the thousands of farmers and
the handful of giants they have to deal with. Compared to these giants,
there is no such thing as a large farm. Due to the limitations of
technology and biology, it is essentially impossible to create a
sustainable farm that can bargain on an equal footing with these giant
| This arrangement gives farmers
bargaining power to
negotiate freight and handling with the railways on the 350,000 or so
grain cars which go to the west coast each year. A customer like the
CWB has more negotiating power with the railways than a farmer shipping
six or even 50 cars of grain to port.
The latest attempt to weaken this
marketing power of farmers is Bill C-300
It is another attempt by the agri-business sector and its lackeys to
take a greater share of the economic pie from those whose powers are
the weakest, the farm producers.
economic studies have demonstrated that the Canadian Wheat Board is
worth an extra $2 million per day to western farmers. As one prominent
farm writer said of Bill C-300
“Apparently innocuous to the uninformed, Bill C-300 will deliver up the
CWB's head on a platter to the concentrated American wheat lobby, led
by multinational grain interests”
Ken Ritter, a farmer and chair of the CWB,
said it best:
|...the ability to attract premiums and the strength to
toe-to-toe with the world class heavyweights in the grain industry -
are predicated on the single desk. So the notion that you can have a
"dual market" with a strong, effective CWB alongside the lack of
restrictions that come with the open market is quite simply misguided.
It can't work. The second the CWB is voluntary, the single desk
disappears and with it, the benefits I have just outlined.
talked about the flexibility of the Canadian Wheat Board and the fact
that the board can adapt as necessary is indicative. One of the three
newest initiatives, the delivery exchange contract, will provide
farmers with increased flexibility in how they manage their deliveries
and their cashflow needs throughout the crop year. The second
initiative is a pilot program for marketing organic grain in
partnership with the Canadian Organic Certification Co-operative Ltd.
The third initiative is a series of enhancements to farmers to contract
their durum wheat for delivery throughout the CWB.
The overriding message with respect to
is that without discussing the merits or de-merits of the bill we
believe any major changes to the manner in which western grain is
marketed or processed must be a decision by the farmers affected and
that the Minister
of Agriculture and Agri-Food
should take those proposals to the
board and seek the endorsement of producers through a fair plebiscite.
oppose the bill not for what it does, but because of the means used to
change the relationship of western grain farmers to the Canadian Wheat
Board. Normally we consider private members' bills as free votes in the
House but it is my contention, along with many others on this side of
the House and other parties, that this is nothing more than a stalking
horse for the Conservative government in an ideological vendetta. This
would undermine and ultimately dismantle the Wheat Board.
effect, it attempts to circumvent the process by which the board of
directors of the Wheat Board, the majority of whom are producers and
are elected by producers, is consulted and required to vote on these
proposed changes. The problem is that farmers, through a plebiscite on
a straightforward and honest question, will decide their own future.
The question must be simple and unambiguous: Do you or do you not
support the single desk selling feature of the board? It is a
straightforward yes or no.
although short in length, could have a very serious and long term
negative impact upon our western grain producers. This is absolutely
high-handed, anti-democratic and truly a railroad of the lowest order.
Never before in the history of the Canadian farmer has any government
deliberately attempted to destroy the farmer's ability to profit and
This will also prove disastrous for ports
such as Thunder Bay, the one I represent in Thunder
as it will for Churchill, Montreal and even Vancouver, because when it
is decided to send the wheat south, what else will go south? Not only
will the marine industry, the headquarters and the research
capabilities go south, but will the Vancouver grain industry move to
Seattle? Likely. Will Winnipeg and all its research and development
capabilities move to Minneapolis or St. Paul? Highly likely.
we are doing here is unravelling the thread, essentially condemning
western Canada to a demise. We are putting its farmers essentially at
the whim of a market where they have to compete against people and
corporations international in scope with all the effective marketing
skills they have.
we talked about the dilution of this, it not only affects those ports,
but it also affects the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system and
indeed, the internal marine economy of North America. It will certainly
have detrimental effects on Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor and
Toronto. We can name them as we go down the St. Lawrence Seaway; they
will all be affected detrimentally.
is easy to say we can do one thing with the bill, that this is only to
affect one part of it, but when it destroys the railway system, when it
destroys the producer network, when it destroys the grain elevator
system, that will all have a horrendous impact on the Canadian economy.
It is interesting to see that some people just do not care what those
impacts will be because of their ideological perseverance, but it will
hurt and it will hurt big time.
we talk about the people we represent, in my riding truly the port and
the railways are most affected, but so are the grain elevators, the
grain companies and the hundreds of people who work there. Western
Canada will also be extremely detrimentally affected. I have actual
proof from farmers. I have no idea who they are or what their political
background is, but it is highly likely that they did not vote for my
party in the last election, but they will the next time because of this
highly undemocratic way--
Mr. Ken Boshcoff: I do not think
anybody in Canada has ever seen such a totalitarian approach to
I get correspondence, faxes, letters, calls and emails from western
Canadian farmers saying that they will never again vote for the
Conservative Party because of this method. I have the correspondence
and it is a delight to me, but it is still scary to see this still
being carried through. The western Conservative MPs are not returning
their phone calls. They are not responding to their constituents. Why?
Because they know that this is a railroad and they are embarrassed and
ashamed, and they should be.
I go to Winnipeg and talk to people at the Wheat Board, when I receive
correspondence and call the farmers back, they give me the straight
goods. I do not understand why the government will not accept this
message: stop fiddling, stop destroying, stop dismantling. The
government has done enough damage. It should do what is right and let
the farmers decide.
Mr. Speaker, it also gives me pleasure to rise
and speak to Bill C-300
which I think is one of the elements of an effort to demolish the
Canadian Wheat Board. The other elements are the leader’s statements,
the ministers’ positions and the government’s position within the
committees. They all clearly show that this government, without
consulting farmers, has put in place a diabolical machine so that the
Canadian Wheat Board will disappear or become so unimportant that, for
all practical purposes, it will disappear of its own accord.
It seems to me that attacking the Canadian Wheat Board is a first,
extremely dangerous step. The Canadian Wheat Board has existed since
1940 in its form of monopoly. When it is attacked, it is a first step
towards further attack, no doubt, on supply management, which serves
very well the interests of Quebec and also many parts of the western
provinces and Ontario.
This dismantling of everything that is government intervention is part
of a sort of ideology, of a doctrine that is obvious at all levels, in
all departments, and particularly in agriculture. Those people,
however, got elected by saying they were going to be the big defenders
We know that all this got started a few years ago when the
Conservatives, here in the House, took a stance in favour of
who had sold their wheat directly in the west. They were prosecuted for
this. They had not followed the rule that says that everyone has to go
through the Canadian Wheat Board. From that time on, the ideological
intention to demolish the Canadian Wheat Board was very clear.
The Canadian Wheat Board, however, has three very clear mandates:
providing a sole marketing agency, pooling accounts and guarantees by
government when needed. It seems to me that that is why this board is
indispensable for ensuring income and service for farmers and making
sure their wheat is disposed of in the best possible way. Furthermore
this is what the government should be checking with farmers since no
vote has been held. It should at least have a democratic consultation.
No. Instead, the Conservatives even had the audacity and the nerve to
appoint to the Canadian Wheat Board Mr. Motiuk, who is recognized as a
passionate defender of choice in marketing.
again shows where the government is headed. We can see from the
introduction of this private member's bill and this appointment that
the government is determined to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board. The
government has also set up round tables, but with the very neutral
objective of laying the groundwork for a dual marketing system. So
consultation is not on the agenda, but the government's new direction
is, with the result that the Canadian Wheat Board has refused to take
part. In other words, board managers were going to take part in a round
table where they would be a party to the abolition of their own agency.
It was unthinkable.
actions by the Conservatives, which are becoming more numerous, are
unacceptable in a democracy. A vote absolutely must be held for
producers, especially since this bill seems to contravene section 47.1
of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, which reads as follows:
| The Minister shall not cause
to be introduced in
Parliament a bill that would exclude any kind, type, class or grade of
wheat or barley, or wheat or barley produced in any area in Canada,
from the provisions of Part IV, either in whole or in part, or
generally, or for any period, or that would extend the application of
Part III or Part IV or both Parts III and IV to any other grain, unless
|(a) the Minister has consulted with the board about
the exclusion or extension; and
|(b) the producers of the grain have voted in favour of
exclusion or extension, the voting process having been determined by
That is what
must happen in order for change to occur. However, this bill, without
consultation, is saying exactly the opposite of section 47.1.
We are bordering on the unlawful.
would also like to remind the members of the statements made by the
Conservative leader when in opposition. He even tabled a motion on
November 6, 2002, stating:
| That, in the opinion of this
House, all Canadians are to
be treated equally and fairly, and since Prairie wheat and barley
producers are discriminated against solely because of their location
and occupation, this House call on the government to take immediate
action to end this discrimination and give Prairie farmers the same
marketing choices that are available in the rest of Canada.
On November 6, 2002, the Conservative
Party, by means of a motion tabled by the current Prime
was staking out its position against the Canadian Wheat Board,
favouring those who cheated or who wished to sell their wheat directly
to the United States.
was the first step. Subsequently, there was the Conservative Party's
election platform which spoke of the appointment of a pro-choice
director—just one more component; the round table, which stated in
advance that we must go with a task force and end up with dual
marketing; letter and e-mail campaigns, also orchestrated by the IWC;
and, to top it all off, the ministerial order muzzling the Canadian
Wheat Board directors as they would no longer have the right to say
other words, they no longer have the right to participate in a forum or
to use, in any manner, their money to publicize action, report on the
successes of the Canadian Wheat Board, organize conferences and
consultations. No money must be spent.
the Canadian Wheat Board is muzzled and in the meantime money is spent
on establishing a biased consultative panel, which must absolutely lead
to dual marketing as the outcome. In fact, the conclusion is given
prior to consultation. That makes no sense. Farmers must be consulted.
do not have a lot of time, so I would also like to quote the Bloc
Québécois agriculture and agri-food critic, the member
who described the Bloc Québécois' position very well. He
said, and I quote:
| Therefore, our position is to
defend at all costs the
existence of publicly-owned corporations as discussed at the WTO
negotiations, for if the government abandons the Canadian Wheat Board,
the entire collective marketing system may be weakened. I spoke earlier
about the domino effect.
words, we will start with the Canadian Wheat Board, then,
hypocritically, move on to attack supply management, which is
indispensable to dairy producers and other collective marketing
organizations. Our critic added:
| This bill opens the door to
attacks on all fronts, on all sides, against our collective marketing
| With this bill, as with all of
its policies concerning
the Canadian Wheat Board, the Conservative government's intention is to
offer farmers the freedom of choice. This might appear entirely
democratic. In fact, we are talking about varied opportunities to sell
their grain. In 2002, the current Prime Minister proposed a motion to
eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board. Voluntary marketing is being
proposed. However, that does not work, which is unfortunate for the
member who is presenting the bill. A few people have tried this and
experience has shown that the balance of power between sellers and
buyers does not exist if the selling agency is not compulsory.
I urge all
members present here today to keep the Canadian Wheat Board. In
conclusion, I would like to express how disappointed I am that
Conservative members from Quebec—who claimed to seek election in order
to defend the interests of Quebec and said that the Bloc
all talk and no action—are not taking action themselves, are not
speaking up, and are allowing such a bill to pass, although they know
that this is the first step towards the destruction of supply
management in Quebec. Yet, they remain silent.
This collaboration among Conservative members
from Quebec and this government is unacceptable.
Speaker, I would like to ask at the onset if it would be the will of
the House to allow me to split my time with the member for Sault
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):
The hon. member will have five minutes for the first speech.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for that generous
permission, I appreciate it.
The NDP opposes Bill C-300
although I appreciate the right of my colleague from Battlefords—Lloydminster
to bring this idea forward. We oppose this with every thread of our
being and I am critical that the Conservative Party seems to be
obsessed with dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board. It is not even a
healthy thing because there is no business case to make as to why we
should dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board.
have said before that I believe it is pure ideological madness to
dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board and I cannot say how critical I am
of us who grew up on the Prairies remember the bad old days of the
robber barons who would exploit farmers. Most of the mansions in
Winnipeg were built by these very grain robber barons. We should also
remember, if we read our history, the voluntary wheat board that was
introduced in 1935 failed in a catastrophic bankruptcy, one of the
largest bankruptcies in Canadian history, because it is simple.
If the initial offering price is higher than the market, the entity
would get all the deliveries but the grain would have to be sold at a
loss. If the initial offering is lower than the market, there will be
no deliveries. It simply cannot work and Bill C-300
stripped down to its most fundamental basics means an end to the single
desk marketing mandate of the Canadian Wheat Board and without the
prerequisite vote. The legislation guarantees a plebiscite of Canadian
farmers before any such fundamental changes are made. This bill seeks
to undermine and usurp that democratic right.
Conservative government is trying to do an end run on democratic
process by first denying farmers the right to vote, as is their
statutory right, and second, by this gag order prohibiting the Wheat
Board from even defending itself.
would like to read parts of a press release from the National Citizens'
Coalition of 1998 on this very issue because at that time the Liberal
government tried to impose a gag order on the National Citizens'
Coalition over the Canadian Wheat Board.
After stating it was going to run the ads
anyway, here is what the current Prime
, then the chair of the National Citizens' Coalition, had
| The NCC position is that such
gag laws are
unconstitutional and unenforceable. We intend to freely express our
political opinions using our own resources--
In other words, he was advocating civil
disobedience. He also said:
|--our ads will point out that the agriculture
|--seems to get his definition of democracy from
Suharto and Castro.
I would argue that the current Prime
gets his ideas from Mussolini and Franco because it is absolutely
fascist to deny the democratic right of farmers to vote and it is
Fascist to use statutory strength and ability to silence opponents, and
not even allow them to represent their own point of view.
minister of agriculture from Manitoba will be coming before the
agriculture committee tomorrow to announce that if the Government of
Canada denies farmers the right to vote, Manitoba will conduct its own
vote of prairie farmers on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board. That
is democracy in action.
will not take this lying down. We will not accept these draconian
measures that would deny prairie farmers the right to their own
self-determination as to how they market their grain, whether it is by
a private member's bill or by the Minister
of Agriculture and Agri-Food
and his heavy-handed jackboot approach
to this issue.
say without any fear of contradiction whatsoever that we will defend
the Canadian Wheat Board, this great prairie institution, because all
the empirical evidence shows that prairie farmers are better off by
marketing their products through the Canadian Wheat Board and its
strength is in its universality.
unity there is strength. It is a popular saying where I come from and
that is why prairie farmers banded together as a grassroots movement to
build the Canadian Wheat Board to market their grain internationally,
effectively, and at a higher rate of return than they could
I am opposed to Bill C-300
It will not get our vote. I can speak for the NDP caucus. We will vote
against Bill C-300 and we will stand up for the Canadian Wheat Board.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Winnipeg
for allowing me these few minutes to put my thoughts on the record with
regard to this draconian bill that is before us here today. I want to
ask the questions that farmers, who I have been talking to over the
last two or three months, are asking. Why are we doing this? Why is the
government heading down this road?
met with 250 farmers in Saskatoon this summer. They were asking the
same questions. I traveled across the breadth of my riding and into Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing
yesterday and talked to farmers. Each one of those farmers asked the
same thing because they know that once we get rid of the Wheat Board,
which does not have much impact on them, next comes supply management.
They are concerned about that.
see what government has done to them over the last two or three years.
The different challenges from other jurisdictions and mad cow disease
has racked their industry. They want to know what the government is
going to put in the place of this most important vehicle if in fact it
takes it away. They want to know if it is going to be helpful because
they know that the programs that are in place now are not working for
them, programs such as CAIS and this new Conservative Canadian farm
families options program.
me read into the record something that one of my farm constituents said
about the Canadian farm families options program:
| This program is one of the
most useless programs
announced by any Government. This is another example of our taxpayers'
dollars being wasted which will eventually be eaten up by
administration. Announcing programs such as this one misleads the
general public. What is quite upsetting is that the individuals who
develop these programs are also taxpayers. Receiving these letters just
reminded us once again that another program will not help the farmers
of the country - the backbone of society which is quickly becoming very
This same farmer and his neighbours said
our agriculture critic, yesterday in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma that
this program was not going to work. The only programs that work for
farmers, that have been proven over time to work for farmers, are
vehicles like the Wheat Board and supply management, so let us keep
us protect our farmers. Let us stand shoulder to shoulder with our
farmers as they take on the countries out there that have subsidized
their industry to the hilt, to a point where our farmers just cannot
want the Wheat Board. They want supply management. They want the
government, our government, all governments to stand shoulder to
shoulder with them as they put in the work that they do every day, and
the investments that they make into their farms to make a go of it. The
family farm in this country is a thing of the past if we do not stand
up right now and defend the vehicles that are actually working for
farmers and protecting their industry.
see governments, the previous government and this government, going to
international trade discussions and entering into agreements that are
selling out, little by little, the vehicles that we in Canada, the
farmers in Canada in partnership with some governments, have worked so
hard to put in place. These are the vehicles that farmers themselves
say will protect them. In fact, these vehicles, through the very
difficult BSE experience that we just had in this country, have
protected a number of farms that in fact have supply management
agreements in place.
other farmers out there that are on their own are trying to make it on
their own. They are trying to participate in the free market that the
government wants to impose upon them and they are finding it more and
more difficult. They are walking away from their farms. They are going
into bankruptcy. Their kids do not want to take over their farms
because there is no money to be made in farming anymore where the
family farm is concerned. They are saying to me, they are saying to my
colleague from Winnipeg
, and they are saying to our critic for agriculture, Alex
, that they want the--
please. I let that slide the first time, but we do not refer to hon.
members by their names. We stick to titles or ridings.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for
Speaker, I have been looking forward to speaking to this bill for some
time. I would like to thank the members who have just spoken to the
bill tonight in the House.
The member for Thunder
asked how much Wheat Board grain is grown and shipped in Thunder Bay.
The answer is none. It is not even covered under the Wheat Board
The Bloc member for Québec
asked how much Wheat Board grain is produced in the area where he is
from. The answer is zero. The Wheat Board monopoly for some strange
reason does not cover that area either.
What about the NDP member for Winnipeg
and the member for Sault
The city of Winnipeg to my knowledge does not produce an awful lot of
Wheat Board grain and Sault Ste. Marie is not even covered. It is not
even in the Wheat Board area. It is interesting that not one member
from the other three political parties represents an area that is
covered by this particular legislation we are talking about today.
I want to thank my colleague, the member
for bringing this bill forward. It is an important bill. I would like
to thank him as well for the work he has done as chair of the House of
Commons agriculture committee. He has done a lot of good work in that
I would also like to thank the member for
who has done an awful lot of good work on the Wheat Board for the
Conservative Party and on behalf of farmers. Those two members are
trying to help improve the role of western Canadian farmers, and those
are the farmers who are actually covered and limited by the Wheat Board
monopoly right now.
bill actually has nothing to do with the Wheat Board monopoly. It has
nothing to do with it, yet what have we heard all of the speakers talk
about tonight? They say that somehow this is going to kill the Wheat
Board and end the monopoly, when in fact it has nothing to do with
that. It is important to clarify that.
want to point out exactly what this bill is intended to do. I would
like to remind the hon. members that the intent of Bill C-300
is to allow prairie farmers to market their wheat and barley directly
to processing facilities owned by prairie producers. It sounds like a
terrible thing to allow. People must think to themselves, “What is he
talking about in this bill? I had better reconsider. He is talking
about allowing prairie farmers to ship their wheat directly to
processing facilities which are owned by prairie farmers themselves.
That is a terrible thing”. It is amazing that we are standing here
talking about this at all.
other words, they would not have to go through the Canadian Wheat Board
to sell their wheat back to farmer owned processing facilities. That is
what this legislation is about. It seems obvious and logical that it
should be supported by every member of the House. I would assume that
if members were to listen to what it is actually about, they would in
fact change their positions and support the bill.
speak to the intent of the bill, it widens the marketing choices for
farmers and encourages more producers to get into the value added side
of the business. We all know that right now farmers could use the boost
and really need the boost that would be provided by allowing them
easier access to the board grains, wheat and barley, which would be
used in processing facilities.
An hon. member: Durum.
Mr. Leon Benoit:
That of course includes durum as well. That is what this bill is about.
It has nothing to do with the Wheat Board monopoly. This issue should
be pretty simple.
am going to talk about the Wheat Board in a broader way right now. The
issue of the Wheat Board and what it should be is a difficult issue. I
am the first to acknowledge that. It is an emotional issue. Farmers are
split on the issue. It is an ideological debate.
have to take the ideology out of the debate and bring it back to one
fundamental issue. What is best for farmers who grow wheat and barley,
which are board grains? That is what we have to turn the discussion to
and away from what we have discussed so far.
is important to look at the history of the Wheat Board. I have heard
members erroneously refer to the history of the Wheat Board and how it
got started. They have been completely incorrect in what they have
said. I want to point out how the Canadian Wheat Board was founded, why
it was founded, and how it got its monopoly and that type of thing.
believe the Wheat Board actually was first established in the 1920s. It
was established because farmers would take their grain to their local
elevators and the companies in many cases would get together and set a
price, but the market was not working. People were using horse-drawn
wagons, so it was pretty hard for them to take the grain back home
again because the market was unfair. The Wheat Board was created to
help deal with this.
were founding principles of the Wheat Board, carefully thought out and
written down. These were the same founding principles that covered the
establishment of all the wheat pools and the pools that were
established before that and after that. The Canadian Wheat Board was
established by farmers to protect farmers, and its main principle was
that it be a voluntary organization, that no one would be forced to use
it. That is the reality. That is the truth of how the Wheat Board was
did the monopoly come from? The monopoly was put in place during the
Second World War in the early 1940s. Why was the monopoly put in place?
It was put in place to allow the Canadian government to get cheap grain
from Canadian farmers at well below market value to help with the war
effort in Europe.
that wrong? It was not wrong the way it was presented to farmers.
Everybody had to do their part for the war effort and they did a lot.
The farmers were promised they would be compensated after the war for
their grain being taken from them by the Wheat Board monopoly, but it
never happened. Not only did it not happen, but the monopoly was not
removed after the war effort, after the war ended. It was left in place.
here talk about a vote on the Wheat Board. Was there a vote when the
monopoly was put in place? No. It was done in the cabinet room behind
closed doors. There was no vote in the House of Commons. It was put in
place and forced upon farmers to get cheap grain for the war effort.
Nobody can deny that. That is history. That is the truth.
I only say this so that when we are examining this issue we can do it
in an honest fashion, knowing how the monopoly came about and knowing
the founding principles of the Wheat Board, the main one being
voluntary participation. Again, I want to point out that this is not
the same position taken in the member's bill. I would never say that,
but I am saying that there is a relevance issue. This certainly is not
in the member's bill, but it is an important consideration when we are
talking about the whole debate on the Canadian Wheat Board issue.
It really concerns me when I hear the
member from Thunder
What is his great concern about maintaining the monopoly? His concern
is about protecting the port and the shipping industry in his riding.
What about grain farmers? I say fine, he should be standing up for
people in his riding, and that is good, but by gosh, let us talk about
the Wheat Board issue and keep in mind what is good for farmers.
we heard from the member from Quebec. What was important to him? It
certainly was not the interests of western Canadian or prairie grain
farmers who are covered by the monopoly. It was not that.
Let us go to the members of the NDP. This
is ideology for them. It really has nothing to do with what is good for
who is looking out for what is good for farmers? Members of the
Conservative Party of Canada are. We are the ones who are looking out
for what is good for farmers.
we want to do with the Wheat Board is a difficult thing for all of us
to deal with. All the members of the Conservative Party are talking to
farmers in our constituencies because we represent those
constituencies. We certainly are having that discussion with the
farmers in our constituencies and trying to determine the best
direction to take to give them more choice in marketing.
we have said is that two things have to happen. First, western Canadian
grain farmers have to be given more choice. Second, whatever is done
has to be to the benefit of western Canadian grain farmers. Those are
the two really important things when it comes to this debate, not the
things that the member for Malpeque
or members from other parts of the country want. They have no vested
interest in this legislation and their constituents have no vested
interest in this legislation. It is not what they want that is
important. It is what western Canadian grain farmers want.
see that I am out of time, Mr. Speaker, which is unfortunate. I have a
lot more to say. I will talk about it at another time.
Mr. Speaker, certainly the House has had a
substantial amount of discussion in relation to the Canadian Wheat
member who just spoke suggested that the member from Thunder Bay
somehow was not qualified to speak because Ontario farmers who produce
grain are somehow not involved in the Wheat Board. As a
parliamentarian, I cannot live in every province, and I certainly
cannot say that I have a direct vested interest in my riding on every
issue that comes before this place, but as a legislator I have a
responsibility to inform myself. When I see information being provided
to all hon. members that maybe does not tell the straight story, I have
a responsibility to participate as well.
was the corporate treasurer of the United Co-operatives of Ontario,
which had 100 retail outlets in Ontario in an agricultural co-op. We
had the grain in the southwest of Ontario and the dairy in the
northeast. When the economic situation turned down, the farmers were
always the first ones to get hit. When the economy turned around, they
were the last ones to recover. That happens in Ontario. It happens in
the agricultural community. It happens in the western grain producer
community as well.
also was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works
and Government Services, who at the time also had responsibility for
the Canadian Wheat Board and spent over a three year period, a fair bit
of time, being briefed on a regular basis on developments with regard
to the Canadian Wheat Board.
member will recall that there was an interesting case when a farmer
decided to take his grain down to the United States. Then there was a
charge laid and a fine levied. Rather than pay the fine, farmers
decided to go to jail instead, as a protest.
I am not totally ignorant about the agricultural industry or the Wheat
Board. I would say, in looking at the bill, that one of the things we
should acknowledge is that the Canadian Wheat Board operates like a
co-op. It requires the support of its membership. It requires the
patronage of its membership to be viable.
the case of grain producers in the west who have transportation
distances much greater than those of producers who are closer to the
U.S. border, without the Wheat Board they have no option, because they
cannot compete. The Wheat Board is the great equalizer. The member will
does this bill do? This bill says that the producers are going to be
given some options. If they want to sell their grain to someone engaged
in the processing of grain, that is fine, and by the way, they will not
have to pay any fees to the Canadian Wheat Board. This means that by
providing these greater options, the Canadian Wheat Board, this co-op
that operates in a fairly lean way, is asked to forgo some significant
amount of revenue, I would suspect, based on the estimates, that
otherwise would have been there if it was handled through the Wheat
we have a situation where we are going to start to undermine the fine
underpinnings of the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Wheat Board
dies. That is the reality. That is the concern.
member also said that the board is a federal monopoly. That is not
exactly so. The board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board actually
does have some federal appointees to the board, but the majority of the
directors of the Canadian Wheat Board are in fact elected by the member
the decisions of the Canadian Wheat Board are not the decisions of the
Government of Canada. They are the decisions of the farmers who utilize
the services of the Wheat Board.
This whole discussion in this debate is
one aspect of it, but it is very clear now that the Minister
has taken a special interest in the Wheat Board and in fact has made
certain statements and certain instructions for his officials which I
believe ultimately will lead to the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board.
Mark my words, this in fact is the beginning of the end of the Canadian
Wheat Board if the minority government continues to operate in this
fashion, as if it were a majority.
Canadian Wheat Board must survive. I do not believe that members of the
Conservative Party will support the continued operation of the Canadian
Wheat Board. I do not believe that they support its principles. In
fact, I believe they support the large producers in the southern areas
of production who want to make a lot more money by exporting to the
United States, but they are prepared to sacrifice some farmers for the
benefit of others. This is pitting farmer against farmer. That is the
problem. That is what is wrong with this wrong-headed thinking, this
ill-advised thinking of the government.
Canadian Wheat Board has long served the producers in Canada. There
have been some good years and there have been some bad years, but the
Canadian Wheat Board has provided the safety net and the stability
within the grain industry to support those farmers when they needed it.
That was the purpose of the Canadian Wheat Board when it was
established. It was to ensure that there was a stable marketplace.
we have had a situation where there is a massive surplus of grain
production. In fact, that has not been the case in recent years. Grain
production and the demand have been quite the contrary. So when a
member of the government starts saying that Ontario has nothing to do
with it, that it is all about the west so let us forget about talking
about it, I believe that is nonsense.
are an integrated system. The agricultural interests transcend all of
Canadian farmers. If we have a healthy agricultural community in the
west, it translates into a healthy agricultural community in other
parts of Canada, whether it be in the transportation side or not.
Members will also know that 70% of the people who work in the
agricultural industry are off farm gate. They do not work on farms. If
we start to put in jeopardy the Canadian Wheat Board, which will put in
jeopardy Canadian farmers, that is going to cost jobs as well. The
members also have not addressed that.
will say to members that this bill is not inconsequential. It is
symptomatic of an ill-advised position that is taken by the
Conservative minority government.To somehow suggest that we do not as
parliamentarians have the right to speak because we are not farmers
ourselves and we do not live in the west is a bad starting point.
critic on agriculture has been a champion on behalf of the farmers of
Canada regardless of whether it is grain or dairy or otherwise. Farmers
need a voice. What they do not need is the divisive voice of the
Conservative Party. The unifying voice, the representative voice of the
fundamental needs of the farming and agricultural community in Canada,
has been represented by the opposition critic for agriculture.
bill is short, but it does represent in microcosm something that is
happening on a larger scale. As I say, I am concerned. I am concerned
on behalf of farmers that this is the beginning of dismantling some of
the stabilizing influences within the agricultural industry, which will
be very bad for farmers in Canada. This is a bad bill. This bill should
be defeated at second reading. In principle, I cannot support it.
There are about three minutes for the speech of
the hon. member for Westlock—St.
Speaker, I will not have time to read all my prepared remarks on this
topic. I want to put a bit of an Alberta tint on this.
talk about the oil and gas that we have in Alberta. It is a fact of
life that the agriculture industry and the agrarian economy has been
the backbone of the Alberta economy for many years. It will continue to
do not start giving all farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and
across western Canada the same as they have in Ontario and in the other
parts of eastern Canada, it is going to be very difficult for our
agriculture producers in the upcoming years.
I want to address some of the comments
that have been made in the past by the member for Mississauga
, the member for Thunder
and the member for Malpeque
None of these members are calling for single desk selling for the
producers in their areas.
I have never heard the member for Malpeque
call for single desk selling for the potato producers in P.E.I. Yet he
pretends to care about and know what is best for the producers who live
in our ridings in western Canada.
Speaker, I rise on a point of order. For the information of the member
opposite, I called for a Canadian potato commission 15 years ago.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Malpeque
interest in my speech.
was also very interested in the airport tour he did a year or so ago,
in which it was proposed to have a bunch of different solutions for
agriculture producers, particularly in western Canada. Again, none of
those solutions are now in the Liberal policy platform he just unveiled
the other day, at least none of the core four solutions that he
originally put forward.
I want to ensure I take the time to
congratulate the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster
in the exemplary work he has done, and the parliamentary secretary from
They are men of ethics and moral standards. They fought for something
in opposition. When they got to this side of the aisle, they continued
to fight for the same thing. They did not flip-flop on these issues.
They did not decide one day that they were for farmers and what was
best for farmers and then the next day decide they would rather choose
politics over it.
the bill may be succinct and small, it is very important for providing
the impetus of change and choice that we dramatically need in western
Canada. I am proud to stand today and support the bill. I ask all
members to take the time, learn a little more about the Wheat Board and
support the bill.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again
today and speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-300
The purpose of the bill is producer
empowerment. “Who gets the final say with my product?”
There has been a lot of talk about the vote. The member from
Mississauga talked about how the Canadian Wheat Board was a co-op. It
is the only mandatory co-op I have ever heard of in the history of the
globe. He talked at great length about how producers should be assured
The member for Sault
said that grain farmers in western Canada had told him in Saskatoon
that they were not in trouble because they had the Canadian Wheat Board
as a safety net for them. That safety net is full of holes. A lot of
farmers are slipping through it. We have a tremendous problem in the
grains and oilseeds sector. They are hurting a lot.
listened to all of this today. I was frustrated and angry. Then I
started to think this was the best thing that could possibly happened
on the bill. I know the opposition will kill the bill before we get a
chance to talk about it in committee, and that is their right to do
that. This is a democracy, but I grit my teeth. However, I then started
am going to get a tape of this sucker and I am going to send it out to
every farmer on my database, and there are some 5,000 or 6,000 of them
in my riding. They are going to get the biggest laugh of their lives
out of this. It shows them who is controlling their livelihoods and how
much they understand the pressure that they are putting them under and
keeping them under with the Wheat Board, which will not flex like it
is a lot of talk out there that farmers cannot go head to head with the
big multinationals. Nobody is expecting them to do that. Nobody is
saying the Wheat Board is even doing that.
look at other examples in the grain sector such as canola, pulse
growers, flax and rye. Oats is a great example. When oats were under
the board, 50,000 tonnes was our export in a year. Now it is up to 1.3
million tonnes, plus a burgeoning processing sector in western Canada
for oats. That is a success story. Cattle, pork and all these issues go
head to head with the multinationals and do very well. They are not
clamouring for some release from out underneath the marketing system
they are held within.
was some mention of transportation, that we were landlocked so we
should not do anything but ship out the raw material. That is the
absolute wrong way to go.
The report that the member for Malpeque
put forward had a couple of points in it. It talked about producer
empowerment to get higher up the food chain. This bill would do that.
It would allow them to have the transportation costs become part of the
purchase, not part of them. Since the Crow rate was taken away, it is
Bloc always tries to tie supply management in this. The member who
spoke about this used to sit on the agriculture committee. He should
know better than that. I have been talking to people in the supply
managed sector, the dairy side, and they say the comparison is apples
and walnuts, not just apples and oranges.
is the biggest difference. The supply managed sector is voluntary. If I
decide I want to get into the sector, I buy some quota and I am in
business. If I want to grow grain in western Canada, I am under the
Wheat Board. I have no choice, none whatsoever. If I decide I want to
take some quota in a supply managed sector and start a cheese factory,
I can do that. I can do that with the quota I have or I can buy more
quota, I can start a cheese factory and I can do what I want with it.
the west, I cannot do that without going through the punitive buyback.
That buyback entails me selling my wheat to the Wheat Board on paper.
It charges me a buyback at whatever it says the world price is that
day. Then it charges me freight and elevation to tidewater, those ports
that I, as a western Canadian farmer, am supposed to subsidize and keep
alive all on my own. I cannot stand that burden any more.
is the big difference between them. One is voluntary and I can value
add. The other one is mandatory and I cannot value add with my product
without adding on about 30% to 40% to the input costs of that product,
which makes it prohibitive. I cannot get a good bottom line. There is
no way they are the same type of thing. We can support one and not the
other simply because one is not open to any kind of change, or allowing
the in or out. Therefore, that argument flies apart.
member also quoted section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act. What
the party left out was the minister can put wheat, barley or whatever
is produced in any area in Canada. That means Quebec producers could be
under the Canadian Wheat Board, the same as I am. I wish him well with
Ontario wheat producers could be under that same single desk selling.
If single desk is the answer and the ultimate control, then why do we
have three separate marketing boards for grain products across the
county? Why is there not one? Why do we not amalgamate them and
everybody can roll around in the same bed. That is probably the answer.
collectivism ideology of the NDP members will not let them grasp the
idea that this is a private property right. I own that product, I will
deal with it and market it as I want.
It being 7:30, the time provided for debate has
The question is on the motion.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):
All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):
All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):
In my opinion the nays have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):
Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until
Wednesday, October 25 immediately before the time provided for private
* * *
39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 069
October 25, 2006
Canadian Wheat Board Act - Vote on Bill C-300
The House will now proceed to the taking of
the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of
under private members' business.
The question is on the motion.
(The House divided on the motion, which
was negatived on the following division:)
(Division No. 51)
(Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
(South Shore—St. Margaret's)
(Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Total: -- 111
(Vancouver Island North)
(Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
(Sault Ste. Marie)
Total: -- 149
Total: -- 4
I declare the motion lost.
* * *