An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act and chapter 17 of the Statutes of Canada, 1998

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Gerry Ritz  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of March 3, 2008
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canadian Wheat Board Act to clarify that the Governor in Council has the authority to amend or repeal any regulation made under section 47 of that Act. The enactment also provides for an arbitration process to resolve disputes respecting commercial transactions or proposed commercial transactions relating to grain. It also repeals section 25 of An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Wheat Board
Business of Supply
Government Orders

October 25th, 2011 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, the member has been the leader of a provincial party. He mentioned that he is concerned about the lack of democratic respect.

Based on his experience, I know he would think there should also be some fiscal and financial responsibility in doing a net benefit analysis in terms of government making decisions.

In a previous court action when the government was trying to bring in Bill C-46 the Wheat Board took the government to court. The director general of marketing policy for Agriculture Canada testified under oath before the Federal Court of Canada with respect to whether the federal government had undertaken a specific economic impact analysis in relation at that time to proposed regulatory changes to the Canadian Wheat Board. Legal counsel asked him this: “Do I have your answer that as far as you are aware, nobody within government has done any analysis of the kind I have described to you?” He means a net benefit economic analysis. The answer: “No, I am not aware that anyone in the government who has done.”

That is Federal Court transcript testimony of Mr. Paul Martin, director general of marketing policy for Agriculture Canada on July 16, 2007.

In terms of a corporation, the magnitude of $5.6 billion a year controlled by an elected board of directors, does the member think it is irresponsible to go ahead without an economic net benefit analysis?

April 27th, 2010 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Assistant Privacy Commissioner, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Chantal Bernier

Yes. For instance, the first step in our analysis of former Bills C-46 and C-47 was to sit down with them and ask them to justify the powers conferred to them under the bills. So numerous meetings were held, experts who were no longer necessarily at the agencies—so who had a certain perspective—performed an analysis and people in academia were consulted.

We formed our own opinion, we did our own analysis of the bill, and we wrote to the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. And we sent a copy of that letter to the chair of your committee. In the letter, we raised some real questions about the two bills.

April 27th, 2010 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Chantal Bernier Assistant Privacy Commissioner, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

What we did was set up four task forces to really focus our efforts on the four priorities, which, as the commissioner said, were chosen for their relevance and because they represent the biggest risks to privacy today.

The national security task force worked hard and made significant strides in a number of areas, in terms of expanding our knowledge and understanding of the issues, and forging stronger ties with national security and law enforcement agencies to ensure we really understood everything involved. Internally, we also carried out more in-depth analyses. We focused on analyses addressing all aspects of national security, including the FINTRAC audit. You will recall that the audit was published recently. Our analysis of former Bills C-46 and C-47 is another example.

We organized workshops to discuss the issues surrounding genetic technologies. It is an area where a lot is still unknown. We did so of our own accord and in cooperation with Genome Canada. In terms of information technology, there again, we strengthened our capacity by engaging experts and keeping a very close eye on all technological developments.

Lastly, in terms of identity integrity, most of our focus was on public education and youth outreach, in order to ensure that Canadians are able to protect themselves against identity theft.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

June 10th, 2008 / 3 p.m.
See context

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Wild Rose for his work for the producers in his area.

However, the member for Wascana certainly is not working for his producers. Yesterday, he helped stop Bill C-46 from going directly to committee because he claimed he wanted to debate it some more in the House. Then, because he did not feel like working, he refused to extend hours for these very debates.

The Liberals sent bills to committee, directly, 57 times when they were in government. Yet, now they refuse to help western barley producers through this action.

Given that the survey by Liberal insider David Herle again underscores farmers' demand for barley marketing choice, why will the member for Wascana get out of the way?

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I heard the member for Lévis—Bellechasse say “agreed”. It would be fine to sit, but what has happened over the months that have gone by? What has happened in Parliament under the Conservative minority government? What will happen in the coming months?

If the bills are so important, as the Conservatives are saying, the government can guarantee that, if the motion is not passed, the House of Commons will not be prorogued. That means that in September we will come back to the House and continue to work. The Conservatives would not prorogue until October or November, as they have done before: a young government that came to power prorogued the House of Commons when we could have been debating bills.

This session, after the May break, our calendar shows four more weeks of work. Of these four weeks, two are reserved for the possibility of extended sitting hours here in the House of Commons. I cannot accept that the Conservatives are saying that we are a bunch of lazy people, and that we do not want to work, when this government has done everything possible since last August to ensure that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs could not operate.

It has been at least two or three months now since the committee last sat because the Conservatives have refused to appoint someone to chair it. The Conservatives decided that the matter submitted to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was partisan, and that is why they are not replacing the chair.

I remember that we appointed a new chair, we voted for a new chair, but the chair never did call a meeting of the committee. The chair is being paid to carry that title, but he met with the members once, and then, it was only to adjourn. Is that not partisanship? When a party refuses to hold a public debate on things going on in Parliament or with political parties, that is partisanship.

As I recall, during the sponsorship scandal, it was fine for the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, which was chaired at the time by an opposition Conservative member, to hold hearings and discuss the sponsorship scandal.

But now that the Conservatives are the ones who spent $18 million during the last election and shuffled money around to spend another $1.5 million on top of that, well, they do not want to talk about it. They will not talk about it. When the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was about to discuss another case, it was shut down again.

To this day, there are bills that have not been debated in committee. The Conservatives think that democracy should happen nowhere but in the House, and certainly not in committee. Parliamentary committees are an important part of our political system, our parliamentary system, our democracy. We were elected by the people in our ridings to come here and pass bills.

We cannot invite a member of the public to testify in the House of Commons, for example. We do not hear witnesses in the House of Commons. We have parliamentary committees where we can invite constituents or people from any part of the country to explain how a bill will affect them and to suggest ways to improve the bill.

For the Conservatives, the most important committee is the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. All they want to do is create justice bills. They would rather build prisons and put everyone in jail than adopt sound social programs to help people work and give them a fair chance in life. For the Conservatives, you either follow the straight and narrow path or you go to jail. These are the sorts of bills they are most interested in.

These are the sorts of bills they are most interested in, yet they brought the work of this committee to a standstill. The chair left the committee and said there would be no more meetings. Experts and members of the public are being prevented from talking to us about important justice bills. This evening, the Conservatives are asking to extend the sitting hours of the House of Commons until June 20 in order to discuss and pass these bills, because they are important. If we do not vote for these bills, then we are not good Canadians. That is in essence what they are saying. They do not want any debate.

They would have us believe that if we extend the sitting hours of the House of Commons every evening until June 20, there will be a terrific debate. We will debate these bills. We will have the opportunity to see democracy in action. At the same time, they have brought the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to a standstill. I have never seen such a thing in the 11 years I have been in the House of Commons. I have never seen such a thing.

I would go so far as to say that it has become a dictatorship. Everything originates from the Prime Minister's Office. So much so that, last week, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons complained that he was tired of rising in the House of Commons. He is the only one to stand up; the ministers do not even have the right to rise to answer questions. It is always the government House leader who answers questions. He was so tired one day last week that he knocked over his glass and spilled water on the Prime Minister. They should have thrown water on him to wake him up because he was tired. He himself told the House that he was tired.

That shows the extent to which the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons as well as the Prime Minister's Office, and not the elected Conservative MPs, control the government's agenda. The MPs have nothing to say. There are also the little tricks of the Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip who told members how to behave in parliamentary committee meetings, which witnesses to invite and how to control them. If they are unable to control them they interrupt the meeting. I have never seen anything like it in the 11 years that I have been an MP.

I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages since 1998. We invited the minister to appear in order to help us with our work and she refused. She refused. She was asked in the House why she refused and she replied that she did not refuse. The committee was studying the Conservatives' action plan. If they wish to make an important contribution to communities throughout the country, there is an action plan to help Canada's official language minority communities—anglophones in Quebec and francophones in the rest of the country.

The action plan was being studied. We asked the minister to speak to us about the action plan so we could work with her. She refused and said she would appear after the plan was tabled. We will invite her again. I have never seen a minister refuse to help a committee.

We invited her again to the Standing Committee on Official Languages concerning the 2010 Olympic Games. The francophone community will not be able to watch the Olympic Games in French anywhere in the country because the contract, which was bid on by CTV, TQS and RDS, was awarded to CTV. We asked the minister to come to the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Instead she said that it was not important for this country's francophones, and she declined. The communities have questions. This all happened in the fall.

This spring, at budget time, the Conservatives declared that money for the action plan or for official languages would come later. We are used to that. We receive an article in English and are told that the French will come later. That is what the budget reminded us of. The money will come later.

But people are waiting. They are wondering what will happen to their communities. People from Newfoundland and Labrador even came to speak to the committee. They told us that currently, minority language communities are having to use lines of credit or even credit cards to help the community. It would be interesting to hear the minister explain why the Conservatives are not giving that money to communities, as they should. They promised to help minority language communities.

I would like to come back to the environment. When we were supposed to be working on environmental issues, the Conservatives systematically obstructed this work for days. They said they had the right to do so. Indeed, they did have the right; that is no problem. We have done the same thing, we will admit. That is part of debate.

Someone came and asked me how we could stop this obstruction. I told that person that it was their right to obstruct and that, if they wanted to talk until the next day, they could. However, when that happens, the chair must not take sides.

Yet that is what happened at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. We had to ask for the chair of the committee to step down. In fact, when we arrived at the committee meeting at 11 a.m., the Conservatives took the floor in order to filibuster and if one of them had to go to the bathroom, the chair adjourned the meeting for 10 minutes. That is no longer obstruction. When we asked the chair if it was going to continue after 1 p.m., he told us to wait until 1 p.m. to find out. Then, at 1 p.m., he decided to adjourn the meeting.

We have been trying since August to discuss the problem of the Conservatives, who had exceeded the $1.5 million spending limit allowed during the last election campaign. The problem with the Conservatives is that they want to hide everything from Canadians. They spoke of transparency, but they wanted to hide from Canadians all their misdeeds. When they were on the opposition benches, they counted on this, especially during the Liberal sponsorship scandal. I remember that and the questions they asked in the House of Commons and in parliamentary committee. They did not hold back.

But they do not want that to happen to them. And if it does, they try to hide it. That is why they did not allow a parliamentary committee to discuss the problems they had created, such as the story with Cadman, our former colleague. His wife said today that her husband told her that he was promised $1 million if he voted with the Conservatives. She never said that was not true; she said that was what in fact was said. Her own daughter said the same thing, that promises had been made. The Conservatives are saying that no one has the right to speak about that. Only they had that right when they were in the opposition, but not us. They are acting like gods and we have to listen to everything they say.

Today, they are moving a motion asking us to listen to them. And yet, when the House leaders and the whips met in committee there was nothing on the agenda. I have never seen the like. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was even asked if there was anything else on the agenda. He just smirked. He was mocking us and today he wants us to cooperate with him. The Conservatives are saying that they are here to work, but they have blocked all the work of the House of Commons for the past six months.

And they are lecturing us?

When the House leader of the Conservative Party tries to give us a lesson and says that we do not want to work, but they are here to work, I cannot believe it.

We have a committee that does not even sit right now. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has not sat for the last two or three months. The Conservatives do not want to hear what they perhaps have done wrong. If they have nothing to hide, they should have let it go ahead.

The Conservatives said that if they were to be investigated by Elections Canada, they wanted all parties to be investigated. Elections Canada did not say that all the parties were wrong. It said that the Conservative Party had broken the rules of Elections Canada by spending over the limit of $18 million. It was the Conservative Party that did that. Right away the Conservatives filed a lawsuit against Elections Canada. Now they say we should not talk about that in the House of Commons.

Every time we went to the House leader meeting and the whip meeting, they had nothing on the agenda. The Conservatives say that they are very democratic. They want a big debate in the House of Commons on bills. BillC-54, Bill C-56, Bill C-19, Bill C-43, Bill C-14, Bill C-32, Bill C-45, Bill C-46, Bill C-39, Bill C-57 and Bill C-22 are all at second reading.

I will not go into detail about what each and every bill is, but even if we say yes to the government, we will be unable to get through those bills. If we want to get through those bills, it will be the PMO and the Prime Minister's way. The Conservatives bring bills to the House and say that members opposite should vote with them. If we do not vote, they say that we are against them. That is the way they do it, no debate.

The debate, as I said in French, should not only take place in the House of Commons; it should to take place in parliamentary committees. That is the only place where Canadians have the right to come before the committees to express themselves. That is the only place people who are experts can come before us to talk about bills, so we can make the bills better.

When a bill is put in place, it may not be such a good bill, but maybe it is a bill that could go in the right direction if all parties work on it. If we put our hands to it, perhaps it can become a good bill. We could talk to experts, who could change our minds, and maybe we could put some new stuff in the bill.

However, no, the Conservatives got rid of the most important committee that would deal with the bills in which they were interested, and that was the justice committee.

I may as well use the words I have heard from the Conservatives. They say that we are lazy. How many times did we say at committee that we would look after the agenda, that there were certain things we wanted to talk about, for example, Election Canada and the in and out scheme? At the same time, we said we were ready to meet on Wednesdays and we could meet on other days as well to discuss bills.

We proposed all kinds of agenda, and I dare any colleague from the Conservative Party to say we did not do that. We have proposed an agenda where we could meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the Conservatives refused.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to move the standard motion that can be made only today. I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Monday, June 9, 2008, and concluding on Thursday, June 19, 2008, the House shall continue to sit until 11:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last week in answer to the Thursday statement, this is we have work to do week. To kick off the week, we are introducing the customary motion to extend the daily sitting hours of the House for the final two weeks of the spring session. This is a motion which is so significant there is actually a specific Standing Order contemplating it, because it is the normal practice of this House, come this point in the parliamentary cycle, that we work additional hours and sit late to conduct business.

In fact, since 1982, when the House adopted a fixed calendar, such a motion has never been defeated. I underline that since a fixed calendar was adopted, such a motion has never been defeated. As a consequence, we know that today when we deal with this motion, we will discover whether the opposition parties are interested in doing the work that they have been sent here to do, or whether they are simply here to collect paycheques, take it easy and head off on a three month vacation.

On 11 of those occasions, sitting hours were extended using this motion. On six other occasions, the House used a different motion to extend the sitting hours in June. This includes the last three years of minority government.

This is not surprising. Canadians expect their members of Parliament to work hard to advance their priorities. They would not look kindly on any party that was too lazy to work a few extra hours to get as much done as possible before the three month summer break. There is a lot to get done.

In the October 2007 Speech from the Throne, we laid out our legislative agenda. It set out an agenda of clear goals focusing on five priorities to: rigorously defend Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; strengthen the federation and modernize our democratic institutions; provide effective, competitive economic leadership to maintain a competitive economy; tackle crime and strengthen the security of Canadians; and improve the environment and the health of Canadians. In the subsequent months, we made substantial progress on these priorities.

We passed the Speech from the Throne which laid out our legislative agenda including our environmental policy. Parliament passed Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, to make our streets and communities safer by tackling violent crime. Parliament passed Bill C-28, which implemented the 2007 economic statement. That bill reduced taxes for all Canadians, including reductions in personal income and business taxes, and the reduction of the GST to 5%.

I would like to point out that since coming into office, this government has reduced the overall tax burden for Canadians and businesses by about $190 billion, bringing taxes to their lowest level in 50 years.

We have moved forward on our food and consumer safety action plan by introducing a new Canada consumer product safety act and amendments to the Food and Drugs Act.

We have taken important steps to improve the living conditions of first nations. For example, first nations will hopefully soon have long overdue protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Bill C-30 has been passed by the House to accelerate the resolution of specific land claims.

Parliament also passed the 2008 budget. This was a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada amid global economic uncertainty. Budget 2008 continues to reduce debt, focuses government spending and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of uncertainty.

As well, the House adopted a motion to endorse the extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with a renewed focus on reconstruction and development to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.

These are significant achievements and they illustrate a record of real results. All parliamentarians should be proud of the work we have accomplished so far in this session. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

As I have stated in previous weekly statements, our top priority is to secure passage of Bill C-50, the 2008 budget implementation bill.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much-needed changes to the immigration system.

These measures will help keep our economy competitive.

Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians.

These priorities include: $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $100 million for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

These investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass before the summer. That is why I am hopeful that the bill will be passed by the House later today.

The budget bill is not our only priority. Today the House completed debate at report stage on Bill C-29, which would create a modern, transparent, accountable process for the reporting of political loans. We will vote on this bill tomorrow and debate at third reading will begin shortly thereafter.

We also wish to pass Bill C-55, which implements our free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

Given that the international trade committee endorsed the agreement earlier this year, I am optimistic that the House will be able to pass this bill before we adjourn.

On Friday we introduced Bill C-60, which responds to recent decisions relating to courts martial. That is an important bill that must be passed on a time line. Quick passage is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our military justice system.

Last week the aboriginal affairs committee reported Bill C-34, which implements the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. This bill has all-party support in the House. Passage of the bill this week would complement our other achievements for first nations, including the apology on Wednesday to the survivors of residential schools.

These are important bills that we think should be given an opportunity to pass. That is why we need to continue to work hard, as our rules contemplate.

The government would also like to take advantage of extended hours to advance important crime and security measures. Important justice measures are still before the House, such as: Bill S-3, the anti-terrorism act; Bill C-53, the auto theft bill; Bill C-45 to modernize the military justice system; and Bill C-60, which responds to recent court martial decisions.

There are a number of other bills that we would like to see advanced in order to improve the management of the economy. There are other economic bills we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability, Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39, to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-57, to modernize the election process for the Canadian Wheat Board, Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector.

If time permits, there are numerous other bills that we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers, Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins, Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods, Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to 8 years from a current maximum of 45, and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

It is clear a lot of work remains before the House. Unfortunately, a number of bills have been delayed by the opposition through hoist amendments. Given these delays, it is only fair that the House extend its sitting hours to complete the bills on the order paper. As I have indicated, we still have to deal with a lot of bills.

We have seen a pattern in this Parliament where the opposition parties have decided to tie up committees to prevent the work of the people being done. They have done delay and obstruction as they did most dramatically on our crime agenda. They do not bother to come and vote one-third of time in the House of Commons. Their voting records has shown that. All of this is part of a pattern of people who are reluctant to work hard.

The government is prepared to work hard and the rules contemplate that it work hard. In fact, on every occasion, when permission has been sought at this point in the parliamentary calendar to sit extended hours, the House has granted permission, including in minority Parliaments.

If that does not happen, it will be clear to Canadians that the opposition parties do not want to work hard and are not interested in debating the important policy issues facing our country. Is it any wonder that we have had a question period dominated not by public policy questions, but dominated entirely by trivia and issues that do not matter to ordinary Canadians.

The government has been working hard to advance its agenda, to advance the agenda that we talked about with Canadians in the last election, to work on the priorities that matter to ordinary Canadians, and we are seeking the consent of the House to do this.

Before concluding, I point out, once again, that extending the daily sitting hours for the last two weeks of June is a common practice. Marleau and Montpetit, at page 346, state this is:

—a long-standing practice whereby, prior to the prorogation of the Parliament or the start of the summer recess, the House would arrange for longer hours of sitting in order to complete or advance its business.

As I stated earlier, it was first formalized in the Standing Orders in 1982 when the House adopted a fixed calendar. Before then, the House often met on the weekend or continued its sittings into July to complete its work. Since 1982, the House has agreed on 11 occasions to extend the hours of sitting in the last two weeks of June.

Therefore, the motion is a routine motion designed to facilitate the business of the House and I expect it will be supported by all members. We are sent here to engage in very important business for the people of Canada. Frankly, the members in the House are paid very generously to do that work. Canadians expect them to do that work and expect them to put in the time that the rules contemplate.

All member of the House, if they seek that privilege from Canadian voters, should be prepared to do the work the rules contemplate. They should be prepared to come here to vote, to come here to debate the issues, to come here for the hours that the rules contemplate. If they are not prepared to do that work, they should step aside and turnover their obligations to people who are willing to do that work.

There is important work to be done on the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. I am therefore seeking the support of all members to extend our sitting hours, so we can complete work on our priorities before we adjourn for the summer. This will allow members to demonstrate results to Canadians when we return to our constituencies in two weeks.

Not very many Canadians have the privilege of the time that we have at home in our ridings, away from our work. People do not begrudge us those privileges. They think it is important for us to connect with them. However, what they expect in return is for us to work hard. They expect us to put in the hours. They expect us to carry on business in a professional fashion. The motion is all about that. It is about doing what the rules have contemplated, what has always been authorized by the House any time it has been asked, since the rule was instituted in 1982. That is why I would ask the House to support the motion to extend the hours.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, western Canadian farmers continue to demand barley marketing freedom and the government remains committed to getting it done.

As was discussed earlier, the latest survey numbers produced by Liberal insider, David Herle, for the Wheat Board showed a growing number of western Canadian farmers want barley marketing freedom. Therefore, on behalf of those farmers, I seek unanimous consent for the following motion: “That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, in relation to Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act and chapter 17 of the Statutes of Canada, 1998, when the bill is next called for debate, a member from each recognized party may speak for a period not exceeding 10 minutes, after which time the bill shall be deemed referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food; and in relation to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act (election of directors), when the bill is next called for debate, a member from each recognized party may speak for a period not exceeding 10 minutes, after which time the bill shall be deemed referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food”.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

June 5th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, this week we have focused on the economy by debating and passing at report stage the budget implementation bill as part of our focused on the economy week.

The bill guarantees a balanced budget, controls spending and keeps taxes low without imposing a carbon and heating tax on Canadian families.

It also sets out much-needed changes to the immigration system in order to maintain our competitive economy.

It will also include the new tax-free savings account, TFSA, an innovative device for individuals and families to save money. That bill is now at third reading and we hope to wrap up debate tomorrow on the important budget implementation bill to maintain the health and competitiveness of our economy.

Next week will be we have work to do week. Since the Speech from the Throne we have introduced 59 bills in Parliament.

These bills focus on fighting crime, sustaining our prosperous and dynamic economy, improving Canadians' environment and their health, strengthening the federation, and securing Canada's place in the world.

To date, 20 of these bills have received royal assent, which leaves a lot of work to do on the 39 that have yet to receive royal assent. I know the Liberal House leader suggests perhaps we should work on only three, but we believe in working a bit harder than that.

To ensure that we have the time necessary to move forward on our remaining legislative priorities, I will seek the consent of the House on Monday to extend the sitting hours for the remaining two weeks of the spring sitting, as the rules contemplate. I am sure all members will welcome the opportunity to get to work to advance the priorities of Canadians and get things done.

I will seek in the future the consent of the opposition to have next Wednesday be a special sitting of the House of Commons. This is to accommodate the special event about which the Liberal House leader was speaking. The day would start at 3 p.m. with an apology from the Prime Minister regarding the residential schools experience. I will also be asking the House and its committees to adjourn that day until 5:30 p.m. to allow for solemn observance of the events surrounding the residential schools apology. Residential school survivors and the chief of the Assembly of First Nations will be offered a place of prominence in our gallery to observe these very important formal ceremonies in the House of Commons.

Tomorrow and continuing next week, we will get started on the other important work remaining by debating the budget implementation bill. After we finish the budget bill, we will debate Bill C-29, to modernize the Canada Elections Act with respect to loans made to political parties, associations and candidates to ensure that wealthy individuals are not able to exert undue influence in the political process, as we have seen even in the recent past.

We will also discuss Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers; Bill C-53, to get tough on criminals who steal cars and traffic in stolen property; Bill S-3, to combat terrorism; Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability; Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins; Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods; Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45; Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules; Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers; Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector; Bill C-45, regarding our military justice system; Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain; Bill C-39, to modernize the grain act for farmers; Bill C-57, to modernize the election process of the Canadian Wheat Board; and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

I know all Canadians think these are important bills. We in the government think they are important and we hope and expect that all members of the House of Commons will roll up their sleeves to work hard in the next two weeks to see that these bills pass.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

June 5th, 2008 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to do that and I would also thank the member for Yorkton—Melville for his tireless work on this file. Amazingly, Mr. Hill, the chair of the Wheat Board, is quoting from the board's own survey that was conducted by, and wait for it, Mr. Speaker, Liberal insider David Herle. Is that not remarkable?

The Liberals cannot even spin their own numbers into a success for their ideological crusade against western grain producers. How many ways do western farmers need to tell the member for Wascana and his clones over there that they want marketing freedom before he will listen? When will the Liberals get out of the producers' way and give them marketing freedom? They should support Bill C-46 today.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

May 29th, 2008 / 3 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Parliament has been having a very successful week. We started with a successful address to Parliament by the President of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko. The president gave an eloquent speech that was well received by all parliamentarians and Canadians.

This week the House of Commons has been proceeding on the theme of sound economic management without a carbon tax. We passed Bill C-21 to give aboriginals living on reserves the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act. We passed our biofuels bill, BillC-33, at third reading and it is now in the Senate. This bill requires that by 2010, 5% of gasoline and by 2012, 2% of diesel and home heating oil be comprised of renewable fuels.

Our bill to implement the Free Trade Agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association—the first free trade agreement signed in six years—passed at second reading and was sent to committee.

Bill C-5, which deals with nuclear liability issues, also appears poised to pass at third reading and be sent to the Senate today.

Last night, the Minister of Finance appeared for over four hours to answer questions by parliamentarians on the main estimates of his department.

Yesterday, the finance committee reported the budget bill back to the House. This bill would ensure a balanced budget, control spending and keep taxes down while avoiding a carbon tax and a heating tax on Canadian families. As well, it would make much needed changes to the immigration system, which will help keep our economy competitive. We will begin debate on that important bill, the budget implementation bill, at report stage tomorrow.

Next week we will be on the same theme, focused on the economy week. Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians. which include $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $110 million to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

Those investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass this session due to opposition obstruction and delay. Today we again saw evidence of such procedural delay tactics from the opposition in the form of a concurrence motion. All opposition parties joined together again to ensure that important legislation to strengthen key Canadian economic sectors could not be debated in the House earlier today.

I want to state clearly that this government is absolutely committed to ensuring the passage of the budget implementation bill this session.

In addition to debating it tomorrow at report stage, we will debate the bill next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, if necessary.

We will also debate: Bill C-7 to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-43 to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39 to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46 to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-14 which allows enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32 to modernize our fisheries sector.

With regard to the question of the remaining opposition day, as the House knows, we have had all but one of those opposition days already during this portion of the supply cycle. The last opposition day will be scheduled sometime between now and the end of this supply cycle. We do know that we are scheduled to rise on June 20.

With regard to the very helpful suggestions of my friend with regard to the apology to our first nations communities for the residential schools issue, plans are underway for that. I am happy to ask the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to take the very helpful suggestions into account and, if necessary, we would be happy to take up the matter at our usual House leader's meeting.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

May 15th, 2008 / 3 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, in keeping with our theme for this week, which is strengthening democracy and human rights, today we will continue to debate Bill C-47, which is a bill to provide basic rights to on reserve individuals to protect them and their children in the event of a relationship breakdown, which are rights that Canadians off reserve enjoy every day.

We will debate our bill to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement, Bill C-34, and Bill C-21, which would extend the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act to aboriginals living on reserve.

We will also debate Bill C-29, which is our bill to close the loophole that was used most recently by Liberal leadership candidates to bypass the personal contribution limit provisions of the election financing laws with large personal loans from wealthy, powerful individuals, and Bill C-19, which is our bill to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45.

Next week will be honouring our monarch week. Members of Parliament will return to their ridings to join constituents in celebrating Queen Victoria, our sovereign with whom Sir John A. Macdonald worked in establishing Confederation, and honouring our contemporary head of state, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The week the House returns will be sound economic management without a carbon tax week. The highlight of the week will be the return of the budget bill to this House on May 28.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much needed changes to the immigration system. These measures will help us ensure the competitiveness of our economy. I would like to assure this House that we are determined to see this bill pass before the House rises for the summer.

We will start the week by debating, at third reading, Bill C-33, our biofuels bill to require that by 2010 5% of gasoline and by 2012 2% of diesel and home heating oil will be comprised of renewable fuels, with our hope that there will be no carbon tax on them.

We will debate Bill C-55, our bill to implement the free trade agreement with the states of the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

We will also debate Bill C-5 dealing with nuclear liability issues for our energy sector; Bill C-7 to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-43 to modernize our customs rules; Bill C-39 to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers; Bill C-46 to give farmers more choice in marketing grain; Bill C-14, which allows enterprises choice for communicating with their customers through the mail; and Bill C-32 to modernize our fisheries sector.

The opposition House leader raises the question of two evenings being set aside for committee of the whole. He is quite right. Those two evenings will have to be set aside sometime between now and May 31.

With regard to the notes that were quoted from by the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, they were their notes and referred of course to announcements that clearly have been made about the need and the imperative of restoring our military's equipment and needs in the way in which the Canadian government is doing so.

May 15th, 2008 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Let me restart here.

Of course we've seen rapid changes in market conditions, competitive pressures, price and input cost pressure squeezing the margins of several commodities, challenges and opportunities in international trade policies, increasing awareness and sensitivity of food safety issues, and increasingly environmentally aware consumers. These factors are all having an impact on how we respond to the challenges and opportunities facing our Canadian producers.

You know, one of the great things about this job is that it gives me a chance to sit down with farmers from coast to coast to coast, and I've been able to do that over the last short time. I can say we're getting some great comments from people that we're on the right track on some of these key issues. Things are getting done, and if you want to see it in black and white, you have the evidence right here in front of you in those main estimates. I think it goes right back to the fact that we have not wavered from the bedrock principle that we established from day one, and that is of course “farmers first”. If the farm gate is not strong and viable and sustainable, then none of the rest matters or can continue. It's a simple formula and it works. We're listening to farmers, we're acting on what we're hearing, and we're delivering real results.

The livestock sector told us it needed help to get through a rough patch, and we delivered. Changes to the advance payments program was by far the biggest ask by the sector, and we delivered in record time, thanks to the help of you in the opposition parties. Changes to the act made emergency cash advances of up to $400,000 per farm available for our livestock producers. Of that $400,000, the first $100,000 is interest-free. We also dealt with issues around security requirements to maintain the security for the banking sector. We took other actions to speed up cash flow to the industry, including fast AgriInvest payments, targeted advance payments, and the cull breeding swine program, which has already met more than half the target.

Farmers asked us to get older cattle moving south again, and we have done that, Mr. Chair, first through rule 2. Then when we were in Washington in March we got the good news that Mexico would provide OIE-consistent access to all breeding cattle—we've seen the first shipments move south—and further, that Canadian breeding cattle could be shipped through the U.S. to Mexico. It's working out very well.

I'm proud of how this government has delivered, ensuring greater market access for Canadian beef. I'm proud of the professional manner in which the agriculture and agri-food department and CFIA are working together and getting things done for our producers. We're getting great comments back.

Last November, the CFIA worked with our livestock industry to head off the enhanced testing for E. coli that was demanded by the United States. We got that turned around. We're making gains for livestock farmers in the red meat sector, but we won't stop there. We need to restore full access to all cattle and beef with all our trading partners.

We will continue to vigorously oppose the current version of mandatory country-of-origin labelling. Of course, that's expedited with the passage of the Farm Bill yesterday. I've raised that issue on several occasions with Secretary of Agriculture Schafer and also his predecessor. The U.S. has to make sure COOL doesn't choke the industry on both sides of the border with unnecessary segregation costs and stacks of mandatory paperwork that serve only to thicken the border, and of course that thickens it both ways. The version of COOL that is implemented must be trade-compliant under NAFTA, or as we have advised the U.S. and have continued to say, we will initiate a NAFTA panel.

Farmers told us they wanted more opportunities in the biofuel sector, and we will deliver that through Bill C-33 amendments, ecoABC, and other initiatives. Our approach to biofuels is thoughtful and reasonable—I'm sure we'll have that discussion here today—balancing the need to ensure we address the needs of the environment with the need for continued food production in this country. We need to put this issue in perspective, however. Right now, to meet our proposed mandates for biofuels would require only about 5% of our production capabilities, less than the variables caused by weather systems. That leaves 95% dedicated to our high-quality food production. We've also invested $500 million towards the next generation of biofuels using cellulosic technology.

We're boosting our food aid by $50 million, maintaining our position as the second-largest contributor to the world aid food programs. Our biofuels strategy is the right plan for our rural communities, our producers, and our environment.

Farmers told us they need access to new and better crops. We're delivering through our support of science and innovation. We've moved quickly to get rid of KVD and that's going to mean new wheat varieties will get introduced here and commercialized here in Canada, instead of the United States.

Farmers asked for workable, bankable business risk management programs for Canadian farmers, and we delivered with the new business risk management suite, thanks in large part to great cooperation with the provinces, which helped us speed up the Kickstart and cost of production payments.

Farmers asked us for a transition period to Growing Forward, to ensure we developed the right programs, and we did that, negotiating the continuity year with the provinces and territories.

I truly believe the progress we have made on this is directly due to the respectful relationship we have built with the provinces and territories, and a solid consultative process including industry.

Farmers asked us for marketing choice in barley, and we're working hard to achieve that through Bill C-46.

We're also working on new guidelines for “Product of Canada” labelling on foods that will give Canadian consumers clear labelling information to make their informed choices. We'll give Canadian farmers and processors the credit they deserve with proper labelling on the products.

I know this committee has done a lot of legwork on this issue, and I certainly look forward to your report.

We also tabled legislation to overhaul food and product safety laws. This will not only boost confidence amongst our consumers at home that our product safety standards are second to none, it will also make Canadian agrifood products more competitive on that global market for consumers.

Farmers asked us to approach international trade with both solid offensive and defensive positions. At the World Trade Organization agricultural negotiations, we are working hard to open new markets and level the international playing field for our producers and processors. These efforts are complemented by our very active regional and bilateral negotiations agenda, where we are making real headway through our exporters.

This government continues its strong support for supply management. At the WTO agricultural negotiations, we are firmly defending the interests of our supply managed sectors.

We have demonstrated our support for supply management through other concrete actions as well. For example, we have taken action under GATT article 28 to limit the imports of low-duty milk protein concentrates through tariff rate quotas.

We are also taking action to finalize the operational section of the WTO special safeguards for supply managed goods, and we've also implemented cheese compositional standards.

Clearly Canadian farmers are succeeding in world markets. Last year Canada's overall agrifood trade hit a record $31.6 billion, an increase of almost 13% over the same period in 2006. Those market realities are reflected in our main estimates here today.

Here at home we have launched a full-court press to get the Growing Forward framework in place at our federal-provincial-territorial meeting this July. I'd like to see as many of the new programs announced as soon as possible after that.

We're constantly talking with farmers during this process because we want to get farmers the right tools for the job ahead.

Growing Forward is more than a federal-provincial-territorial agreement. It's the result of a lot of hard work and consultation with farmers, farm organizations, and others throughout the sector. Growing Forward is already delivering for farmers. It fully supports this government's strong competitiveness and innovation agenda.

Growing Forward aims to deliver important innovations, new market opportunities, provincial flexibility and affordability, improved service standards with streamlined regulations, and a competitive sector that can adjust to the changing global marketplace. Growing Forward will make the whole agricultural value chain stronger from field to port. Growing Forward is the right response to the realities and challenges facing the agricultural sector today.

Mr. Chair, with that snapshot of where we've been and where we're going, I'd be happy to open the floor to questions.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

May 8th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the government took a major step forward this week to maintain a competitive economy, our theme for this week, and I am happy to advise the House that yesterday the Standing Committee on Finance agreed to report the budget implementation bill back to the House by May 28.

This is excellent news. The budget bill ensures a balanced budget, controls spending, and invests in priority areas.

This week also saw the passage of Bill C-23, which amends the Canada Marine Act, and Bill C-5 on nuclear liability at report stage.

Today, we are debating a confidence motion on the government’s handling of the economy. We fully expect, notwithstanding the minority status of our government, that this House of Commons will, once again, express its support for the government’s sound management of Canada’s finances and the economy.

Tomorrow, will we continue with maintaining a competitive economy week by debating our bill to implement our free trade agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association. It is the first free trade agreement signed in six years and represents our commitment to finding new markets for the goods and services Canadians produce.

If there is time, we will also debate Bill C-14, which would allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers; Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector; Bill C-43, to modernize our custom rules; Bill C-39, to modernize the Grain Act for farmers; and Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain.

The government believes strongly in the principle of democracy and the fundamental importance of human rights. Next week we will show our support for that with strengthening democracy and human rights week. The week will start with debate on Bill C-30, our specific land claims bill. The bill would create an independent tribunal made up of superior court judges to help resolve the specific claims of first nations and will, hopefully, speed up the resolution about standing claims.

We will debate Bill C-34, which is our bill to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. We will debate our bill to provide basic rights to on reserve individuals, Bill C-47, to protect them and their children in the event of a relationship breakdown, rights that off reserve Canadians enjoy every day.

As I said, we are committed to strengthening democracy in Canada. Yesterday, I had an excellent discussion on Senate reform with members of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee. That discussion will continue in this House next week when we debate our bill to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45, as foreseen in Bill C-19.

We will also debate our bill to close the loophole used by leadership candidates to bypass the personal contribution limit provisions of the election financing laws with large, personal loans from wealthy powerful individuals and ensure we eliminate the influence of big money in the political process.

With regard to the question about estimates, there are, as the opposition House leader knows, two evenings that must be scheduled for committee of the whole in the House to deal with those estimates. Those days will be scheduled over the next two weeks that we sit so they may be completed before May 31, as contemplated in the Standing Orders.

There have been consultations, Mr. Speaker, and I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for the following:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, on Friday, May 9, starting at noon and ending at the normal hour of daily adjournment, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

Business of the House
Government Orders

May 1st, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, our week devoted to action on the environment and health of Canadians is proving to be a success. We just passed Bill C-33 at report stage with the support of two of the other three parties. This is our bill requiring that by 2010 5% of gasoline and by 2012 2% of diesel fuel and home heating oil be comprised of renewable fuels. It represents an important part of our plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. Debate of this bill at third reading will now be able to commence tomorrow.

We have also started to debate two bills to improve the safety of food, consumer products and medical products in Canada.

On Monday we debated Bill C-52, to create the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and yesterday we debated Bill C-51, to modernize the Food and Drugs Act.

We also introduced Bill C-54, to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins. We will continue to debate these bills today and tomorrow.

During these uncertain economic times to the south, our government has led the way on the economy by taking decisive and early action over the past six months to pay down debt, reduce taxes to stimulate the economy and create jobs, and provide targeted support to key industries. In keeping with our strong leadership on the economy, next week will be maintaining a competitive economy week.

We plan to debate the following bills intended to enhance the competitiveness of certain sectors of the Canadian economy: our Bill C-23, at third reading stage, to amend the Canada Marine Act; our Bill C-5, at report stage, on liability in case of a nuclear incident; and our Bill C-14, at second reading stage, to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act.

We will also debate at second reading Bill C-32, which modernizes the Fisheries Act, Bill C-43, which amends the Customs Act, and Bill C-39, which amends the Canada Grain Act. We will also begin to debate Bill C-46. This is our bill to free western barley producers from the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly by giving them the freedom to market their own products. We will debate at third reading our bill to amend the Aeronautics Act, Bill C-7.

My friend, the member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader, said that government business and the doing of business in the House of Commons appeared to end on Tuesday. That is because next Wednesday and Thursday will be opposition days, and I would like to allot them as such at this time.

In terms of the question he raised with regard to Bill C-293, which is a private member's bill, I understand it is scheduled to come before the House in early May. At that time the House will have an opportunity to deal with the matter.

In terms of estimates and witnesses appearing before committee of the whole, the government does have to designate those to occur before May 31. Late last night I finally received notice of which two departments were identified and we will soon be advising the House of the dates that will be scheduled for consideration of those matters in committee of the whole.

April 2nd, 2008 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Executive Secretary, National Farmers Union

Terry Pugh

Thank you very much for the opportunity to present to the committee by video conference. We appreciate it.

We haven't had a lot of time to look at this trade agreement, but it's clear that it's one of a series of bilateral trade agreements that Canada is pursuing. They're all in conjunction with the larger trade agreement, the WTO, so it's important to look at this in the context of the WTO.

The bottom line for measuring success or failure of any trade agreement from the farmers' perspective is whether that trade agreement actually raises farmers' net income. A trade agreement that boosts exports but results in lower net farm income is not a good deal for Canadian farmers.

That being said, there is actually one positive thing in this agreement that I've seen, and that is on durum wheat. It's perhaps the only positive aspect of this trade deal that I've found. Because durum exports are made through the Canadian Wheat Board, the farmers of western Canada are the direct beneficiaries of those sales and more money is going right back to the farm gate. If those sales were made through private grain companies, there would be considerably less going back to the farm gate. So an increase in sales as a result of lower tariffs in some of these countries will actually translate into increased direct revenue for farmers.

Of course, the Wheat Board has done a tremendous job marketing durum in Europe. You're probably aware that the EU is our biggest customer already for durum wheat. Canada grows only a little over 12% of world durum production, but we actually ship 51.8% of durum globally.

Right now Switzerland isn't a big market for us. From the best estimates we've seen, we only ship about 1,500 tonnes, and the tariff rate is already very low. Norway is a little bigger, and right now we export no durum to Norway. So if we are increasing those exports, that will probably help us.

But it's important to keep in mind that Canadian wheat and durum exports are a big draw for our overseas customers because of the consistent quality and reliability of those grains. That's due to the Canadian Wheat Board sales regulations that are in place, the Canadian Grain Commission, and our system of kernel visual distinguishability.

Both of those agencies are under severe stress right now. The Canadian Grain Commission, under Bill C-39, is faced with the loss of inward inspection. As you're probably aware, the KVD system, which is the key cornerstone of our grain quality system, is going to be phased out on August 1, 2008. If that happens, there is a real concern about whether we're going to be able to keep those markets. So even if we gain something with these duty tariff reductions, we may lose many millions more if we lose the Canadian Grain Commission and the Canadian Wheat Board single desk.

I was a little surprised, in reading some of the transcripts, that no economic analysis has been done on the implications of this trade deal. I think that speaks volumes. We've seen a similar lack of economic analysis in Bill C-46, which will change the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the Grain Commission. We haven't seen any economic analysis by the government on what will happen to farm incomes if those two agencies are weakened in any way.

But the most critical and highly negative aspect of this deal, from our point of view, is its impact on supply management, for example, in the dairy industry. It's true that our access commitments remain in place for imports of certain commodities, as specified under the WTO agreement, but the tariff rates on some of those imports have been dramatically lowered, some of them to the point of elimination entirely.

It's good when the tariff rates on our exports are reduced. It's another matter when we see tariff rates on imports of dairy products, for example, coming into Canada reduced.... I think the Ag Canada representative, in early March, pointed out that, for example, on butter, under 4,000 tonnes of butter coming into Canada, which is our access quota, right now under the WTO--that's a 7% tariff. Under this deal, that 7% goes down to 0%. That is, without a doubt, a tariff cut from 7% down to 0%. The amount that's coming in stays the same, but the tariff rate is actually reduced.

That is a key point, because what that does is effectively facilitate access to the Canadian market for imports of dairy products. We have to keep in mind that the more we open up our market to imports, the more we shut out Canadian producers from their own domestic market. As I pointed out, that cut from 7% to 0% for some dairy products coming in is definitely a cut in tariff rates.

A little over two months ago, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz stated in response to a revised WTO draft modalities text, “Canada maintains its firm opposition to any tariff cuts or tariff quota expansion for sensitive products. This represents a fundamental element of Canada’s negotiating position.”

I'll just finish up by saying that that statement from Gerry Ritz was released two weeks after this agreement was signed, when he certainly should have been well aware that there were tariff cuts. So when he said there will be no tariff cuts at the WTO, it makes us wonder whether the government is perhaps putting on a public show of resisting this push at the WTO for reductions in tariffs; but it's actually willing to cut tariffs on a small bilateral trade deal, so how can it refuse to do so on the larger WTO deal?

This agreement actually appears to have set a precedent that may well facilitate ongoing trade measures that weaken Canada's supply management and orderly marketing systems.

I'll conclude with those remarks.