Bill C-4 (Historical)
Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology Act
An Act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
Ralph Goodale Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
May 6th, 2002 / 11:45 a.m.
Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should cease and desist its sustained legislative and political attacks on the lives and livelihoods of rural Canadians and the communities where they live.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Medicine Hat.
The topic for today's official opposition motion does not come from us as MPs but from Canadians. We are a vast country and the vast majority of the people who live beyond the glare of the big city lights are fed up. They feel neglected by the Liberal government and they are telling us so. I imagine that Liberal backbench MPs have been told the same thing by their constituents for the last eight years, but sadly these common sense appeals from rural voters have fallen on the deaf ears of the Liberals.
As evidence of this I will cite that over the last couple of weeks a fear of being dethroned during the next election has been spreading among the Liberal backbenchers. Some of them have even been brave enough to speak up against the Prime Minister's dictatorial ways. These Liberal MPs will again accept minor word changes by the government and consider that a victory. The Liberal elite laughs at how easily duped they are: A few grants and handouts later, they are back barking like trained seals.
If the constituents in those Liberal ridings want to see real change, they should elect Canadian Alliance MPs. We have been in the lead in championing these issues important to ordinary Canadians for the last eight years. The government implements our policies, but much too slowly to make the dramatic changes that are needed to turn our economic engines into economic dynamos. The Liberals would rather use taxes and red tape until the industries are hurting so bad that they need to subsidize them.
Only when the Liberals are subsidizing things do they consider their programs and policies a success. Slush funds and political patronage they understand; economic development they do not. Slush funds, by the way, are used mainly to buy votes. If the government had implemented Reform Party agricultural policies in 1994, many thousands of farmers would not be facing the crisis they are today. Unfortunately in eight years the Liberals have learned nothing. In fact they have become more arrogant, anti-democratic and corrupt. They look for new ideas among the bureaucrats and Liberal backroomers when the best ideas are right in front of their noses. All they have do is listen to the people who are on the long-suffering end of their failed policies and programs.
The Liberals are experts at pitting one group of Canadians against the other and nowhere is this more evident than in the way they have pitted urban voters against rural voters, the very essence of what we are bringing forward today. The Liberals play up to animal rights groups at the expense of farmers, hunters and fishermen. They try to ram animal cruelty legislation through parliament and make farmers out to be the bad guys when the opposite is true. No one cares more about animals than farmers do. The Liberals play up to the environmental lobby groups by trying to ram endangered species legislation through the House, but they are dishonest with both environmentalists and farmers because the laws they wish to enact will not protect endangered species and will force farmers to abandon their land without being paid fair market value for their land.
The Liberals play up to urban voters by telling them they are doing something to fight violent crime in the city by forcing millions of law-abiding citizens to register their guns, this despite data from Statistics Canada and insurance company actuaries that prove that responsible gun owners are no threat to themselves, their families, neighbours or communities. Anyone listening today must be starting to see a trend developing here. Last week the backbencher from Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey acknowledged this serious problem in a letter to his caucus colleagues. He stated:
I believe that unless [the bill] is amended, there will be a perception in rural Canada that once again a law tailored to urban interests is being thrust upon the rural community. Those of us representing rural ridings know all too well the divisiveness and distrust that remains from our government's passage of C-68, the gun registration law.
That strikes to the very heart of what we are talking about today.
Our speakers will outline failure after failure of Liberal policies and programs. Today we will describe Liberal legislation and programs that have failed rural Canadians: legislation like Bill C-5, Bill C-15B, Bill C-68 and Bill C-4 from 1998, which perpetuated the fiftieth year of the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board. We will describe programs like useless regional economic development funds and corporate handouts that are really slimy Liberal slush funds buying votes instead of creating real development opportunities.
We will describe today how rural Canadians have been ignored and neglected by the Liberal ruling elite while the Liberal backbenchers sit on their duffs in the House, scared they will lose their perks and access to their slush funds if they start to really represent the true needs and wishes of their constituents. We will describe Liberal neglect and mismanagement of trade issues to the detriment of the softwood lumber producers and the communities where they live and work, and Liberal neglect and mismanagement of the foreign trade and subsidy issues to the detriment of Canadian farmers and their communities.
Not only will the House hear a dry, statistical and economic argument today, it will hear about real people in real communities who are hurting because of Liberal laws and Liberal neglect.
My own province of Saskatchewan lost 15,000 jobs in the last year alone. Report Newsmagazine recently reported that the population of Saskatchewan has dropped by 26% in the last three decades. Saskatchewan should not be a have not province. Liberal policies and programs perpetuate Saskatchewan's have not status and it has to stop now. The Liberal failure to allow Canadian wheat producers to sell their wheat directly to value added processing like pasta plants is just one glaring example of Liberal neglect and stupidity.
The one area of economic opportunity in Saskatchewan is guiding and outfitting, but what do the Liberals do? They force every American hunter to pay a tax of $50 to come into Canada. Many of them stayed home last year, and it will get worse. Who are the Liberals hurting with this new tax? They are hurting farmers who are forced into getting into outfitting to help finance the losses they were suffering on the farm. Again they are at the receiving end of failed Liberal policies and programs. The Liberals are hurting aboriginal guiding and outfitting companies, one of the few economic opportunities for aboriginals living on remote reserves. Liberals would rather pay welfare than get out of the way and let aboriginal entrepreneurs prove that they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
What if a farmer needs to go out and buy a new rifle to shoot the coyotes that are attacking his cattle? The Department of Justice documents put the regulatory cost of buying a rifle at $279. That is before even buying the rifle and bullets. That is absolutely ridiculous and the government has the nerve to say it is not doing anything to negatively impact on law-abiding citizens who use firearms for their own livelihood.
Before my time is up I want to leave everyone with one last message for our friends in urban Canada. The Canadian Alliance is not playing the Liberal game of pitting one group of Canadians against another. We believe that sound rural and resource development policies create jobs, opportunities and wealth in urban centres. It is no secret that all the mines are in the north but most of the money from those mines flows through Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal to benefit all of the citizens of these cities.
When farmers succeed, the Canadian economy grows and jobs are created in urban centres. Development of Canada is a team effort. Unfortunately, for the last eight years the Liberals have been neglecting half of the team.
I predict that in the next election campaign the Liberals will again try to use labels to smear their opponents rather than discuss the issues important to Canadians. Today's motion is a key part of the debate that needs to take place.
Today the Canadian Alliance is saying to rural and northern Canadians “We know you are fed up and we are not going to let the Liberals get away with it any more. Like a friend of mine once said “To light a fire you start at the bottom, and it will spread upwards”. If we want the economy to start burning we need to get out of the way of our basic resource sectors; we need to stop pouring cold water all over them and instead get them back on track, be it the fisheries on our east and west coasts, the farms all across Canada, the forestry sector, the mining, oil and gas sector, or the tourism industry for hunting and shooting sports. All these rural based industries are being held back by destructive Liberal policies or neglect.
The message I have for our city cousins is this: “Please help us, for it is the economic health of urban Canada and your own jobs that are affected too”.
March 19th, 2002 / 12:35 p.m.
Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS
Mr. Speaker, those are very good questions and the member guessed my answers before he asked them.
I do not have any confidence the government will bring out a report that is at all accountable.
Bill C-4, the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology Act, which most opposition parties voted against, was passed in the House by the government. It was supposed to reduce greenhouse gases. The sum of $100 million was put into an open-ended piece of legislation and the government is allowed to put more money in at any time. It is not accountable to the auditor general's office and the Access to Information Act is not applicable. The government talks about spending money, but we have no idea how it is doing it. There is no accountability in the legislation and there is no accountability from government ministers.
Points of Order
Oral Question Period
November 22nd, 2001 / 3:10 p.m.
I am now ready to rule on a point of order raised by the hon. member for St. Albert on Thursday, November 1, 2001, relating to two items in the supplementary estimates: vote 10 for $50 million for the sustainable development technology fund under Environment Canada and vote 10 also for $50 million for the sustainable development technology fund under Natural Resources Canada.
In his submission the hon. member for St. Albert argued that these votes should be ruled out of order for two reasons. First, in his view, the government expenditures of $100 million funding related to the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology constituted a multi-year appropriation. Second, he contended that there had already been a transfer of money for these purposes without parliamentary approval.
In support of his position the member referred to the auditor general's observations in the Public Accounts of Canada 2000-01 tabled in the House on September 27, 2001, in which she expressed serious concerns with the events surrounding these grants.
I wish to thank the hon. member for St. Albert for raising this matter and I also want to acknowledge the contribution of the hon. government House leader on this subject.
At the outset, I want to draw the attention of the House not only to the seriousness of this question but also to its complexity. I ask the House to bear with me as I review the events which have led us to the current situation.
Let me begin with a chronology of events that may be helpful.
The initial announcement of funds to support sustainable development technology was made in the budget statement presented by the hon. Minister of Finance on February 28, 2000. The enabling legislation for that initiative, Bill C-46, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development, died on the order paper at the dissolution of the 36th parliament.
At the beginning of this parliament on February 2, a new bill, Bill C-4 was introduced and given first reading.
Bill C-4 provides, in addition to the provisions of the original Bill C-46, that the government may designate a corporation already incorporated under part two of the Canada Corporations Act to continue as the Canadian Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology. A not for profit corporation of this type was established in March of this year. In early April, Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada each granted $25 million to this not for profit corporation using funds transferred from the treasury board contingencies vote for this year.
On June 14 Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, received royal assent. Thus Bill C-4 became law prior to the tabling of the supplementary estimates (A) so there need be no concern that an attempt is being made here to legislate through an appropriation.
The Chair can find no specific request under our supply process for authority to make the two payments for the corporation. In other words, neither the main estimates 2001-02 nor interim supply mention these particular grants. This is a significant fact and we will return to it later.
That being said, and this is a technical point but one of key importance, the money transferred to Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada to make these payments was taken from the treasury board contingencies vote for this year, so there is no question of a multi-year appropriation in the case before us. That answers the hon. member for St. Albert's first concern.
However, we are still left to deal with the allegation that no approval has been given for the original expenditures in this case. I said a moment ago that I could find no authority for the original grants totalling $50 million in either the main estimates 2001-02 or in interim supply. Let us then return to what is being requested in the supplementary estimates (A) 2001-02 tabled in the House on November 1.
At page 58 of the supplementary estimates, vote 10 under the environment department requests $50 million for the sustainable development technology fund. A note indicates that funds in the amount of $25 million were advanced from the treasury board contingencies vote to provide temporary funding for this program. A similar entry for the same program is listed at page 115 under vote 10 of the natural resources department. A total of $100 million is therefore being sought for the sustainable development technology fund.
Two questions arise.
The first question is the confusion between the “Fund” as referred to in Supplementary Estimates and the “foundation” created by Bill C-4.
Neither Bill C-4 nor its predecessor, Bill C-46, mentions “Sustainable Development Technology Fund.” Indeed, in speaking on second reading of Bill C-4, the hon. Minister of National Resources and Minister responsible for the Canada Wheat Board stated, and I quote the Debates of February 19th 2001, page 852, said:
In Budget 2000, we first announced the government's intention to establish a foundation with initial funding of $100 million to stimulate the development and demonstration of new environmental technologies, in particular climate change and clean air technologies. Bill C-4 delivers on that commitment from Budget 2000. It creates the organizational structure, the legal status and the modus operandi of the foundation.
On the basis of the minister's statement, I am led to conclude that what is being sought in the Supplementary Estimates (A) is funding for the Canada Sustainable Development Technology Foundation, established pursuant to Bill C-4. From a procedural point of view, such a request poses no difficulty.
However, the Supplementary Estimates do not identify the foundation as the recipient. Instead, the estimates refer only to a Sustainable Development Technology Fund.
The second question is the crux of the matter: what is the link, if any, between the $100 million requested in supplementary estimates (A) for the foundation/fund and the $50 million already paid to the not for profit corporation in April of this year?
As I have already mentioned in the chronology, notes in the supplementary estimates list the sustainable development technology fund as the recipient of a total of $50 million in interim funding through the treasury board contingencies vote. However, these funds were paid to the pre-existing not-for-profit corporation, established under an altogether different legal authority, namely, the Canada Corporations Act, and not under Bill C-4 creating the foundation.
The Chair cannot see that the request for $100 million funding relates in any way to the original grants made to the corporation using the legal authority of the Energy Efficiency Act and the Department of the Environment Act. Simply put, the $100 million now being sought cannot be used both to fund the foundation and to refund the treasury board contingencies vote for $50 million paid out earlier to the corporation.
Bourinot 4th edition at page 416 has this to say on the subject of supplementary estimates: “All these estimates are divided into votes or resolutions, which appropriate specified sums for services specially defined. They are arranged under separate heads of expenditure, so as to give the full information upon all matters contained therein”.
The lack of clarity and transparency in this case must be of considerable concern to the Chair. Requests for funds in the estimates are tied to particular programs, previously approved by parliament. I have noted, of course, the auditor general's comment that she is satisfied that legal authority existed for these grants under the Energy Efficiency Act and the Department of the Environment Act. However, the concomitant authority under the supply process to make these payments has never been sought from parliament. That is the crux of the procedural difficulty raised by the hon. member for St. Albert and I must conclude that he is correct in his assessment of the situation, if not perhaps in the remedy he suggests.
In summary, then, the Chair has concluded that no authority has ever been sought from parliament for grants totalling $50 million made to the corporation in April of this year and does not consider that the notes in the supplementary estimates (A) concerning the disbursement of these earlier monies are sufficient to be considered as a request for approval of those grants. In other words, the approval that is being sought in supplementary estimates (A) cannot be deemed to include tacit approval for the earlier $50 million grant.
However, as there remains ample time for the government to take corrective action by making the appropriate request of parliament through the supplementary estimates process, the Chair need not comment further at this time. The supplementary estimates (A) for 2001-2002 can therefore proceed.
I wish to thank the hon. member for St. Albert for having drawn this matter to the attention of the House. I commend him for his vigilance in matters of supply. I especially appreciate his having raised it early enough to allow the Chair to examine closely a very complex issue and I hope my ruling has not confused hon. members.
Canadian Wheat Board Act
Private Members' Business
November 19th, 2001 / 11:35 a.m.
Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB
In fact there was one. It was a lot similar to the referendum held in 1995.
An honest question should be asked so that producers could decide if they want the option of a choice. That is what we are saying now.
I agree with the member for Yorkton--Melville. I think producers, given the proper information and the proper opportunity, would go for a dual market system with the wheat board being able to provide some of the necessary services which some people would like to accept.
This is a rather simple issue. When the Canadian Wheat Board appeared before the committee recently we were talking about another issue which I will not get involved in right now to any degree: genetically modified wheat. I asked a question of the Canadian Wheat Board which said specifically that it could not market that wheat because there was no market available.
If in fact it was genetically modified wheat and because it had already said it could not market it, I then asked if it would allow it to be marketed outside the wheat board. The board's answer was no. Even though it cannot sell it, cannot market it, does not want to try to market it and cannot in its own words develop markets, it will not allow anyone to produce wheat outside the Canadian Wheat Board. That is totally ridiculous.
If people want to develop alternate products like GM wheat, organic wheat or products that are now encompassed under the board's domain which cannot be sold through the board, it is ridiculous to maintain that control. We are saying the Canadian Wheat Board should let them loose and allow producers another choice with respect to their own wishes.
I thank the member for bringing the issue back. It is not finished. It will be back on the floor of the House. I said that Bill C-4 would not last, and it will not. Bill C-4 will be back in another form. Even when the government does not understand there are producers out there who want some choice, eventually that choice will be given. I am sorry it will not be done by this government, but a government in the future will allow that to happen.
Canadian Wheat Board Act
Private Members' Business
November 19th, 2001 / 11:30 a.m.
Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in the House to speak to the private member's motion of the member for Yorkton--Melville. I congratulate him for bringing the issue forward once again.
The issue is not new to the House. It has been brought forward time and time again. Eventually there will be a resolution either in the House or by producers themselves and we will no longer need to debate the rights and freedoms of producers to market their own product the way they see fit. Until that time we must make sure the issue is identified on a regular basis so it does not lose its priority in the House.
I am disappointed that the private member's motion could not be votable. I believe strongly that not only this private member's piece of business but all private members' business should be votable in the House. We should let members stand in this place, put their positions forward, have them identified as democratic issues and decide whether or not they should be votable.
Since I was elected to the House in 1997, and certainly for many years prior to that, producers have been questioning the ability of the Canadian Wheat Board to market their product the way they would see fit.
I have an awful lot of respect for the member for Palliser. He sits on the agriculture committee. He and I perhaps differ a bit on how the issue should be dealt with. However in his speech he indicated there is a choice and that the producer should make the choice. That will ultimately be the final resolution.
Canadians, members of the House and the government must recognize that all of us have a democratic right to produce and sell products the way we see fit. That right has been taken away from the producers of western Canada. Some of them seem quite content to have it continue in that fashion but the majority, and there are more and more, wants freedom of choice.
The motion does not talk anywhere about the total demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. Nor do we espouse the total demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. I believe, as do some producers, that in some cases the wheat board provides a satisfactory sales group that can sell its product. However not all producers believe that. They would like to attempt on their own to achieve something better for themselves outside the Canadian Wheat Board.
The Canadian Wheat Board should remain. Let us make no mistake about that. However it should remain a voluntary organization, as the motion says. Producers entering into agreements with the Canadian Wheat Board should be able to continue with their current sales mechanisms and pooling accounts while having the wheat board sell their product on their behalf.
Many producers are able to sell their product outside the Canadian Wheat Board. Canola is a prime example. Canola producers can sell their product to the marketing group they want to sell to. They can make that choice themselves. However they cannot do it with wheat.
Oats were taken away from the Canadian Wheat Board not that long ago. The same comments were made that oats taken outside the board would not be sold to the benefit of the producer. That is not true. Oats have gained quite a dramatic increase because producers now have the opportunity to sell them on the open market.
The Canadian Wheat Board was incorporated by the government in 1935. That was a long time ago. Times change. Producers have become much more sophisticated in the way they can produce and sell their product. All we are suggesting is that the government open its mind and allow producers the right to market their product the way they wish. That is all the member for Yorkton--Melville is saying. He is not asking that we destroy the board. He is asking that we give producers a choice.
There have been a lot of changes to the Canadian Wheat Board over the past number of years. It was originally intended by the Progressive Conservative government of Mr. R. B. Bennett that the Canadian Wheat Board be a voluntary institution with a mandate to operate in the best interests of producers.
It is unfortunate that the wheat board no longer operates in the fashion for which it was originally intended. It eventually became a monopoly and a means of controlling wheat prices for the federal government during World War II.
That was a long time ago and many things have changed. We should therefore be able to take off the blinders, open our minds and allow producers some of the freedom they are looking for now.
The member for Palliser mentioned Bill C-4 which was introduced in 1997. A substantial number of people appeared before the committee at that time who suggested there should be an opening up of the Canadian Wheat Board operations. Those suggestions were not taken into consideration when Bill C-4 finally passed. The government said that it had an elected board of directors that could make decisions on behalf of producers.
I believe that decisions based in the Canadian Wheat Board should be made by producers themselves. For example, it should be put to producers whether they want a one tier monopoly system. The Progressive Conservative Party is suggesting that producers should be allowed to make that decision themselves. They should be given the right to vote. They should be asked an honest, specific question and allowed to have the opportunity to make the choice themselves. They should be allowed out of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly situation they are currently in. As a matter of fact the Progressive Conservative Party is stating:
A Progressive Conservative government would make membership in the Canadian Wheat Board a matter of discretion of the producer subject to the conduct of a free vote of all current members of the CWB to determine the powers of the CWB for the ensuing five years.
The development of the question or questions to be posed to members of the Canadian Wheat Board would be carried out by an independent party. We heard the member for Palliser say that when it was anticipated that barley would be taken away from the board 63% of producers wanted to retain it. The question was a bit ambiguous. There were no options with respect to having the board remain and having the opportunity of a free market and a board market.
Canadian Wheat Board Act
Private Members' Business
November 19th, 2001 / 11:25 a.m.
Dick Proctor Palliser, SK
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to make a few remarks about the private member's motion presented by the member for Yorkton--Melville. The New Democratic Party has always been a supporter of orderly marketing so it will come as no surprise to anyone in the House that we would be opposed to the motion before us today regarding the Canadian Wheat Board.
The board has been operating for more than 60 years, as the member for Yorkton--Melville pointed out. Currently it is the marketing agency for wheat and certain barley.
The mover of the motion mentioned that the board exists only in three provinces. He is factually incorrect. The wheat board operates in parts of the province of British Columbia together with the three prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The hon. member said the way the board is structured it would not be allowed in any other jurisdiction. He mentioned the legal community. While I would not associate myself with all the remarks of the parliamentary secretary who just spoke, there have been votes in the last few years on the board of directors of which the results are pretty clear. The individuals being elected to the Canadian Wheat Board are supporters of the board. They do not favour a provision for dual marketing or a voluntary board.
We heard a lot of these arguments in 1997 and 1998 when Bill C-4 was before the House. The bill led to the election of 10 of the 15 members of the board of directors. We heard about maximizing returns for producers.
I will take a moment to share with the House a conversation I had several years ago with a person in Chile who was an adviser to the minister of agriculture in that country. I asked him about his views on the Canadian Wheat Board. At the time I was a newly elected member of parliament and Bill C-4 was before the House and the standing committee.
He made two comments I thought were interesting. First, he said he disagreed fundamentally that people who defied the board should end up in jail. We heard the member for Yorkton--Melville talk about that today.
Second, he said that in his travels as an adviser to the minister in and around Santiago he would meet with millers in Chile and ask them why they continued to buy their product from the Canadian Wheat Board when they could buy it more cheaply from Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Louis Dreyfus Canada or some of the other big grain companies of the world.
The comment he heard most frequently from the millers was that it was reliable to buy through the Canadian Wheat Board. They said they could sleep well at night knowing the product they were getting would be as advertised in terms of protein, nutrition and other things that are important to millers for the different kinds of flour, bread, pastries and other items they produce.
The millers were prepared to pay a premium to buy Canadian grain because it was reliable. They said Canada was known for being a good marketer and delivering what it said it would deliver.
There are plenty of these kinds of examples around. Virtually every analysis that has been done shows that while the wheat board has not always achieved the best returns it has been ahead of the market most of the time in terms of maximizing returns to producers. As an aside I would draw attention to the KPMG study that was done several years ago which we debated when Bill C-4 was before the House.
The second part of the motion says there should be an opting out mechanism that would allow producers to remove themselves and the grain they produce from the board's jurisdiction for a period of two years. We in the NDP think that would weaken the ability of Canadian farmers to compete in the international market.
The wheat board has introduced mechanisms for farmers to manage risks and undertake pricing options beyond the well established pool accounts. Fixed price and basis contracts off the Minneapolis grain exchange provide flexibility to farmers in managing business risks. For these and other reasons we continue to support the board.
We note in passing what Justice Muldoon said in Alberta a few years ago regarding the Alberta charter challenge against the board's authority as a single desk marketer of barley. He said a dual marketing system would do away with the wheat board and simply be a transition to an open market.
As I tried to indicate earlier, farmers have shown what they think of the board and single desk selling. In 1997, 63% of barley growers voted to have the board continue to market their crop.
In conclusion, it is not up to members of parliament to decide if some producers should be allowed to remove themselves from the board's jurisdiction. That is up to farmers to decide. They do that through regular elections to the board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board.
We in my party fundamentally believe that the future of the wheat board is a debate for farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia.
Canadian Wheat Board Act
Private Members' Business
November 19th, 2001 / 11:15 a.m.
Ben Serré Timiskaming—Cochrane, ON
I would appreciate it if I could finish my speech.
The hon. member will recall that all aspects of this same issue were debated only three years ago, during the debate on Bill C-4, and that parliament rejected it at that time. In fact, it was the hon. member from the party opposite who proposed a similar motion in 1997.
I will reiterate once again why the Government of Canada and the majority of the members of the House do not support these amendments.
First, the objective of the Canadian Wheat Board Act was purposely left unchanged three years ago to allow the board of directors to carry out its duties. When changes were made to the CWB act we modernized its corporate governance to make it more democratic and to give producers more direct control. We strengthened the CWB's accountability to farmers and provided it with greater operational flexibility to respond to changing producer needs in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Central to all of this was the creation of a brand new board of directors to direct the operation and determine the strategic direction of the Canadian Wheat Board. The existing objective of the Canadian Wheat Board Act to market in an orderly manner provides the board of directors with sufficient scope to perform this role.
Members will recall that the Canadian Wheat Board was previously governed by a small group of appointed commissioners. As a result of reforms to the CWB act in 1998, the Canadian Wheat Board now operates under a 15 member board of directors, 10 of whom, that is a two-thirds majority, are directly elected by CWB permit holders. These directors are accountable to producers. If they do not act in the best interests of producers, producers can vote them out.
Second, the board of directors has determined the CWB's mission is to market quality product and service to maximize returns to western Canadian grain producers. In other words, grain producers, through their elected directors, have already determined that the CWB is to maximize returns to producers. They have gone further in specifying that the CWB's mission is also to market quality product and service. This is precisely what parliament had in mind when it amended the CWB act. Producers, not politicians, are determining the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing role.
As for providing an opting out mechanism that will allow producers to remove themselves and the grain they produce from the board's jurisdiction for a minimum period of two years, the government cannot support the amendment because farmers do not want it. In fact, a solid majority of farmers have clearly said they want to retain the strengths of the Canadian Wheat Board. Farmers also made it clear they wanted more flexibility.
Points of Order
November 1st, 2001 / 10:10 a.m.
John Williams St. Albert, AB
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with regard to the supplementary estimates, which were tabled in the House of Commons just a few minutes ago, and vote 10 of Environment Canada and vote 10 of Natural Resources Canada.
I am rising at this time because of a reference of Marleau and Montpetit, at page 734, which states:
--members raise questions about the procedural acceptability of Estimates as early as possible so that the Chair has time to give “intelligent” consideration to these questions.
There is no doubt that the issue I am about to raise is quite serious and deserves the appropriate consideration.
Speaker Jerome also said in a ruling on December 7, 1977, at page 184 of Debates :
--supply ought to be confined strictly to the process for which it was intended, that is to say, for the purpose of putting forward by the government the estimate of money it needs, and then in turn voting by the House of that money to the government...legislation and legislated changes in substances are not intended to be part of supply, but rather ought to be part of the legislative process in a regular way...
Mr. Speaker, I also refer you to the remarks of Madam Speaker Sauvé on June 12, 1981 at page 10546 of Hansard when she said that it did not matter whether the amount spent was a large sum or simply one dollar.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, I maintain an interest in the estimates and the financial procedures of the House and I continue to be concerned that parliament has lost control of the public purse. Parliament must remain supreme, and when the government undertakes actions that I will now explain, it causes me a great deal of concern.
I also want to refer you to a motion tabled in the other place on June 14, 2001 at page 1192 of the Debates of the Senate of which I am sure you are no doubt aware. It states:
The actions of the Government of Canada in creating a private sector corporation as a stand-in for the Foundation now proposed in Bill C-4, and the depositing of $100 million of taxpayer's money with that corporation, without the prior approval of Parliament, is an affront to the members of both Houses of Parliament.
The Committee requests that the Speaker of the Senate notify the Speaker of the House of Commons of the dismay and concern of the Senate with this circumvention of parliamentary process
The Auditor General of Canada has expressed serious concerns with the events surrounding a $100 million grant to the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology of which $50 million has actually been paid out. These concerns were contained in her observations on page 1.34 to 1.38 of the Public Accounts of Canada for 2000-01, which were tabled in the House on September 27.
In March 2001 a not for profit corporation named the Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology in Canada was established by four Canadian citizens under part 2 of the Canada Corporations Act. Later the same month a funding agreement was signed between the Government of Canada and this corporation.
On March 22, the treasury board approved a temporary transfer of $25 million to vote 10 of Environment Canada and $25 million to vote 10 of Natural Resources Canada. The funds were to come from the government contingency vote, which is vote 5 under the treasury board's vote 5.
On April 5 the treasury board advised Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada that they each had the authority to transfer $25 million to vote 10 from the treasury board's vote 5. On April 9, $25 million was paid to the corporation and charged to Natural Resources Canada vote 10. On April 11, $25 million was paid to the corporation and charged Environment Canada vote 10.
While the Appropriation Act No. 2, Bill C-29, received royal assent on June 14 providing Environment Canada for 2001-02 spending authority for vote 10 in the amount of $2.85 million for the grants listed in the estimates and Bill C-29 provided Natural Resources Canada with 2001-02 spending authority in the amount of $0.6 million for the grants listed in the estimates, these amounts did not include the two amounts of $25 million each since they were transferred from vote 5.
Today the President of the Treasury Board has tabled supplementary estimates which provide supplementary spending authority of $50 million to vote 10 for each of Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada. The full amount for the foundation, I believe, is listed separately in the grants section of these two departments. When the bill receives royal assent, I expect that treasury board vote 5 will be replenished for the $25 million advanced to the two departmental votes in April 2001. I also understand that $25 million is expected to be paid by each of Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada in January 2002 and charged to their respective vote 10.
Essentially, the government is appropriating money in one fiscal year, placing it into a separate account and spending it in future years. This is unacceptable. I refer you, Mr. Speaker, to Marleau and Montpetit at page 741 which says:
The Chair has cautioned that an Appropriation Act gives authority only for a single year and is therefore not appropriate for expenditure which is meant to continue for a longer period, or indefinitely.
That is what we have here. A foundation has been created with money appropriated by parliament which is meant to continue indefinitely.
The auditor general states in her observation at page 1.37 of the Public Accounts of Canada for 2000-01:
However, I question whether it was appropriate for the Government to use a general contingency vote to provide $50 million in temporary authority so the departments could make the grant payments to the Corporation, all before Bill C-4 received royal assent
Bill C-4 was given first reading in the House on February 2, 2001. The bill proposed the creation of the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology and proposed that any corporation proposed under part II of the Canada Corporations Act continue as the foundation.
Bill C-4 did not receive royal assent as the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Act until June 14. Prior to the House voting on supply, with specific funds for the corporation, which subsequently became a foundation, the government and the corporation signed a funding agreement on March 26. The government then transferred $25 million to the corporation on April 9 and $25 million on April 11, yet the request for supply has just been tabled in the House today, November 1, which is almost nine months later.
Members of the House as far back as 1971 have repeatedly objected to the government's use of estimates and appropriation acts as vehicles to spend money on programs that have not received legislative authority. Your predecessors, Mr. Speaker, have struck votes from the estimates several times: March 10, 1971; March 22, 1977; December 7, 1977; March 25, 1981; June 12, 1981; June 21, 1981; March 21, 1983; and March 21, 1984.
I refer you to the ruling of Mr. Speaker Jerome on March 22, 1977 at page 4221 of the Debates which states:
--the government receives from parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by parliament of an appropriation act.
The auditor general continues in her observation to state on page 1.37 of the Public Accounts of Canada:
I also question Government statements that the Corporation had to be established and the funds transferred to it quickly or the spending...would lapse. Parliament had not granted any spending authority for 2000-2001; therefore, there was no spending authority to lapse.
This is a typical way in which this government appropriates and spends money without parliamentary approval. Let us not forget that parliament is supreme. The Prime Minister and his cabinet have no authority to spend the tax dollars of Canadians without prior approval of the House.
Standing Order 80(1) of the House is clear: It states:
All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons,...
That is the reason why the Magna Carta was signed away back in 1215, to remove the arbitrary power of the monarch and to replace it with the representatives of the people, who either approve or reject the government's spending proposal. As the saying goes, no taxation without representation.
The auditor general states in her opinion that it is likely parliament will approve the supplementary estimates, but that is no reason or excuse for the government to assume that the House will respond to its beck and call. If we are to be a rubber stamp where whatever the government proposes, it assumes we will approve, and whenever the government acts without our authority it assumes it will get it, then we might as well all go home.
I have stood in the House before and said that you have the title of Speaker because you speak for all of us. If this place matters to anyone, then in my opinion you must rule these votes out of order.
I concur with the auditor general who stated:
Finally, should Parliament not approve the Supplementary Estimates and thereby not give retroactive approval of the spending authority for the $50 million already paid to the Corporation, my reading of Vote 10 for both Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada leads me to conclude that these two $25 million payments could not be charged to that Vote. This is because the grants to the Corporation do not fit within any of the classes of grants currently described in the Estimates of those departments.
Again, I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the auditor general's conclusion that there has been no authority granted by parliament for this expenditure, which already has taken place.
If the House does not approve the supplementary estimates, the government would be required to obtain the return of the $50 million from the corporation, since no money may be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund without the authority of parliament. Yet the government is bound by its funding agreement with the corporation, and any action to recover funds would put the government in breach of the agreement. Quite simply, parliament has lost control of the public purse and $50 million of taxpayer money. Fifty million dollars is now outside the scope of the Financial Administration Act. This is completely unacceptable.
The auditor general concludes with strong language. She says:
I certainly hope that in the rest of my tenure...I will not see another such series of events carried out to achieve a desired accounting result.
I would also point out that the auditor general who was appointed this spring has almost 10 years left in her mandate. I am glad to see that the auditor general, an officer of parliament, is standing up for due process and proper control of the public purse in the country.
It is clear that the government has used smoke and mirrors to achieve its goal. In anticipation that the House would approve Bill C-4, it set up a private corporation with four shareholders, thinking that it could subsequently legitimize the foundation by having Bill C-4 approved and that this corporation, under the Canada Corporations Act, would be swallowed up by the foundation created under Bill C-4.
The government could not wait for parliament to speak and approve the legislation. It could not wait for parliament to speak and vote supply. Its arrogant, presumptuous attitude says that it will take this place for granted and whatever it wants, the members will do.
I ask you today, Mr. Speaker, to speak on behalf of all parliamentarians and state clearly and unequivocally that this place matters and that before the Government of Canada spends the money, we approve the request in the House.
Therefore I am asking that you rule both vote 10 of Environment Canada and vote 10 of Natural Resources Canada out of order and demonstrate once and for all that parliament is the guardian of the public purse.
Oral Question Period
October 29th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege to charge the Minister of Transport with contempt. The minister has brought the authority and dignity of the House into question and has breached the new procedure that was established by the adoption of the first report of the modernization committee.
On Thursday, October 25, while the House was in session, the minister held a press conference to announce a $75 million bailout for Canada 3000. While this brand of disrespect is not uncommon for the Liberal government, I believe that this is the first time that such an act has occurred since the adoption of the first report of the modernization committee. At page 4 of that report the committee states:
Concerns have been expressed that government announcements, regarding legislation or policies, are increasingly made outside the House of Commons. While this is by no means a recent phenomenon, it continues to be a source of concern. The Committee is recommending two initiatives to address it.
First, it is important that more ministerial statements and announcements be made in the House of Commons. In particular, topical developments, or foreseeable policy decisions, should be made first—or, at least, concurrently—in the chamber. Ministers, and their departments, need to be encouraged to make use of the forum provided by the House of Commons. Not only will this enhance the pre-eminence of Parliament, but it will also reiterate the legislative underpinning for governmental decisions.
The committee recommended that the government make greater use of ministerial statements in the Chamber and that the House leaders be advised in advance of these statements.
I was not advised of this announcement. When I stood in the House on Thursday and asked the Thursday question, the government House leader had the opportunity right there and then, but failed to do so.
There was no reason why the Minister of Transport could not have advised the opposition and there were no procedural difficulties preventing the Minister of Transport from making his announcement in the House. I am certain that all parties would have extended every courtesy to the minister if he had chosen to respect the House and make his announcement here.
It is important to know that the House adjourned early on that day for lack of business. It adjourned early last Monday and Friday and it adjourned early on Friday, October 19, and on Monday, October 22, so wherein lies the problem with debating these issues on the floor of the House? A $75 million bailout is no small change. Where does the minister think the authority to spend the $75 million comes from?
The government and its departments are continuously making a habit of mocking the parliamentary system in this manner. We have had the deliberate leaking to the media of contents of Bill C-15 and, more recently, of the anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-36.
One of the reasons the modernization committee felt it necessary to address the issue was that in the last two parliaments the government got away with mocking the legislative process at every turn, belittling the role of members of parliament. I will cite a few of the more serious examples.
On Thursday, October 23, 1997, the government announced that provincial and federal governments had constituted a nominating committee to nominate candidates for the new Canada pension plan investment board. The nominating committee was provided for under subclause 10(2) of Bill C-2. The House had not yet adopted Bill C-2.
On January 21, 1998, the minister responsible for the wheat board met in Regina to discuss the rules for the election of directors to the Canadian Wheat Board's board of directors, as proposed in Bill C-4, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act. Substantial amendments to Bill C-4 tabled at report stage by opposition members were scheduled for debate in the House. While the House debated how many directors should be farmer elected versus being government appointees, the minister was holding meetings as though the bill was already law.
When the Canadian millennium scholarship fund was being established, a published article in the Toronto Star announced that Yves Landry had been named as the head of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. Mr. Landry was quoted as saying “I am only one member of the board and my job is to be a facilitator”. There was no legislation before the House setting up the foundation, nor had the budget announcement allocating $2.5 billion in revenue to the foundation been adopted.
The Minister for International Trade announced on March 30, 1998, the establishment of a Canada-China interparliamentary group. At that time, the House had not set up a Canada-China interparliamentary group.
Finally, the date of the last budget that was delivered in the House, so long ago we have probably forgotten, was announced by the Prime Minister outside the House.
Each disrespectful act we allow to stand unchallenged becomes a precedent that serves afterwards to justify more acts of disrespect. The modernization committee recognized this and felt it necessary to make a statement.
The adoption of this report outlined what standard the House expected from ministers in this regard.
On page 119 of Erskine May there is a reference regarding a select committee that was appointed to inquire into the conduct and activities of members and to consider whether any such conduct or activities amounted to a contempt of the House and whether any such activities were:
--conduct...inconsistent with the standards the House was entitled to expect from its Members.
The minister cannot claim ignorance because the House pronounced itself on this issue through the adoption of the modernization committee report. When the Minister of Transport made his announcement outside the House on Thursday, October 25 while there was still an opportunity to make it inside, his conduct was clearly inconsistent with the standards the House was entitled to expect from him. As a consequence the minister is in contempt of the House.
The other related parliamentary tradition that the government likes to forget about is the issue of and respect for the doctrine of ministerial responsibility.
The Minister of Transport and the rest of his colleagues, and particularly the Minister of Justice, should review the definition of ministerial responsibility from page 63 of the 22nd edition of Erskine May. It states:
—ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments...it is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament—
Where can we find the truthful and accurate information regarding the decision to hand out $75 million to Canada 3000? Not in Hansard of Thursday, October 25. Where it was found was in the Globe and Mail of October 26.
I am beginning to think that being held in contempt in the House is of little concern to the government. Let us look at the example of the Minister of Justice who was held in contempt for leaking to the media the contents of Bill C-15.
When I appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to review another charge of contempt involving the minister, I pointed out that we no longer respect, to the same degree as in the past, the principle that ministers have a duty to parliament to account and to be held to account for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments.
I cited the example from 1976 involving the Hon. André Ouellet, the then minister of consumer and corporate affairs. Mr. Ouellet made a comment on the acquittal by Mr. Justice Mackay of the sugar companies accused of forming cartels and combines. As a result, Mr. Justice Mackay cited him for contempt of court. He was found guilty of the charge and resigned his cabinet post over the incident.
A charge of contempt by the House should be considered just as serious, if not more serious, as a contempt charge in a court. Unfortunately the Minister of Justice chose not to take responsibility in the time honoured tradition of ministerial accountability, as did Mr. Ouellet.
Getting back to this case, I will conclude my remarks by saying that had I had an opportunity to respond to this announcement by the Minister of Transport I might have asked the minister why he can justify giving Canada 3000 $75 million but cannot spend one dime on the softwood lumber industry that lost millions of dollars over a trade dispute with the United States. Thousands of people are out of work as a result and thousands more are expected to lose their jobs.
Also, what about the farmers who suffered through this summer's drought?
These are some of the questions we might have asked if the minister had given us an opportunity, but we did not. The minister might want to talk about timing, about how the House was not sitting. It was not sitting because the government chose not to have it sitting. It adjourned early. We have adjourned early too many days over the last little while.
Certainly I saw the minister on television that night at 7 p.m. The House adjourned early,and I cannot remember if it was 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., but surely he must have made the decision earlier in the day. He could have spoken to the government House leader and made sure it was put on the agenda so that we could have done it in the House and it could have been done properly.
Mr. Speaker, if you find that we have a case of privilege, I am prepared to move the proper motion.
Message From The Senate
The Royal Assent
June 14th, 2001 / 5 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence—Chapter No. 7.
Bill S-24, an act to implement an agreement between the Mohawks of Kanesatake and Her Majesty in right of Canada respecting governance of certain lands by the Mohawks of Kanesatake and to amend an act in consequence—Chapter No. 8.
Bill C-8, an act to establish the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and to amend certain acts in relation to financial institutions—Chapter No. 9.
Bill S-17, an act to amend the Patent Act—Chapter No. 10.
Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act—Chapter No. 11.
Bill S-16, an act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act—Chapter No. 12.
Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts—Chapter No. 13.
Bill S-11, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Canada Cooperatives Act and to amend other acts in consequence—Chapter No. 14.
Bill C-13, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act—Chapter No. 15.
Bill C-26, an act to amend the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Excise Act, the Excise Tax Act and the Income Tax Act in respect of tobacco—Chapter No. 16.
Bill C-22, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Income Tax Application Rules, certain acts related to the Income Tax Act, the Canada Pension Plan, the Customs Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act and another act related to the Excise Tax Act—Chapter No. 17.
Bill C-3, an act to amend the Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization and Divestiture Act and the Petro-Canada Public Participation Act—Chapter No. 18.
Bill C-18, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act—Chapter No. 19.
Bill C-28, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Salaries Act—Chapter No. 20.
Bill C-9, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act—Chapter No. 21.
Bill C-25, an act to amend the Farm Credit Corporation Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts—Chapter No. 22.
Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology—Chapter No. 23.
Bill C-29, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002—Chapter No. 24.
Bill S-25, an act to amend the Act of Incorporation of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada.
Bill S-27, an act to authorize The Imperial Life Assurance Company of Canada to apply to be continued as a company under the laws of the Province of Quebec.
Bill S-28, an act to authorize Certas Direct Insurance Company to apply to be continued as a company under the laws of the Province of Quebec.
Pursuant to order made on Wednesday, June 13, the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 17, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28 and 24.
(The House adjourned at 5.26 p.m.)