Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts
Gerry Ritz Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- Nov. 28, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- Nov. 28, 2011 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts, because members of the Committee were unable to hear testimony from the primary producers affected by and concerned with the future commercialization of the Canadian Wheat Board”.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Passed That Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 55.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 46.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 45.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing lines 38 to 42 on page 7 with the following: “(2) All the directors are elected by the producers in accordance with the regulations. The directors must designate, also in accordance with those regulations, a president from among themselves.”
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 7 with the following: “9. (1) The board consists of fifteen directors,”
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 12.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 9.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 7.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 6.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 3.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
- Nov. 23, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
- Oct. 24, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to a legislative committee.
- Oct. 24, 2011 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts, because it: ( a) fails to respect the will of the majority of prairie farmers who have expressed a desire to maintain the current composition and structure of the Canadian Wheat Board; (b) ignores the fact that the Canadian Wheat Board is funded, controlled, and directed by Canadian farmers and removes their autonomy to maximize prices and minimize risks in the western wheat and barley market; and (c) makes sweeping decisions on behalf of prairie farmers by eliminating the single-desk system that has provided prairie farmers strength and stability for nearly 70 years”.
- Oct. 24, 2011 Failed That the amendment be amended by adding after the words “70 years” the following: “, including specifically the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board’s role in managing transportation logistics and thereby leaving farmers without an effective voice with respect to rail service levels and freight rates; and ( d) breaches section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act”.
- Oct. 20, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts, not more than two further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the second day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
Department of Justice
March 18th, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Speaker, I rise to respond to the question of privilege that was raised shortly before the recent constituency week. The member referred to allegations made by an official in the Department of Justice, which are currently the subject of litigation before the Federal Court. He has said that if those allegations are true, then the House was misled. I firmly reject that insinuation.
In the government House leader's remarks made in immediate response, he noted three procedural objections from the outset to this question of privilege: first, that it was not brought at the earliest opportunity; second, that it pertained to a question of law; and third, that the sub judice convention ought to be considered.
As noted by my hon. colleague, the plaintiff filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court on December 14, 2012. A motion in relation to this judicial proceeding was heard in Federal Court on January 15, 2013, leading to a series of newspaper articles and other stories about this case in the days following. However, no question of privilege was raised when the House reconvened on January 28, 2013.
When I appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on February 6, in relation to Bill S-9, the hon. member for Gatineau questioned me about section 4.1. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre had yet to bring forward his question of privilege, despite his colleague, the NDP's justice critic, being prepared to participate in a thorough discussion on the subject.
Moreover, I understand that the reporting requirement of section 4.1 has come up in no fewer than five different debates on the floor of the House since the start of 2013. Suffice to say, the hon. member could have raised his question much sooner than March 6, 2013.
The second matter raised by the government House leader was that the issue before us is a question of law.
Citation 168(5) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, advises that the Speaker “will not give a decision upon a constitutional question nor decide a question of law, though the same may be raised on a point of order or question of privilege". This is a long-settled proposition.
The same statement is declared at page 180 of Sir Jean Bourinot's Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada. That book was published in 1916. The principle recited can be traced through many Speakers' rulings.
Mr. Speaker Milliken ruled on December 12, 2012, at page 2600 of the Debates, on a dispute about whether certain content in the Public Accounts accorded with the requirements of the Financial Administration Act. On this, your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, said:
It is not of course for the Speaker to decide if the agency is acting in compliance with the law. As I have had occasion to mention in several recent rulings, it is a long-accepted principle that the Speaker does not pronounce on points of law.
There is clearly a difference of opinion...concerning interpretation of the legalities flowing from the facts of this case. That is a matter for debate and a variety of different opportunities are available by which the matter can be raised in this chamber or in committee. There is no procedural issue here and so I need not elaborate on that further.
Mr. Speaker Fraser's ruling on October 9, 1990, page 13620 of the Debates lends itself well to the allegations here. He said:
—it is not for the Speaker of the House to rule on constitutional matters. It is not for the Speaker of the House to try to interpret at any given time different legal opinions that may be expressed across the country.
Deputy Speaker Lucien Lamoureux, as he then was, declined to answer a question of whether a bill came within the constitutional jurisdiction of the Parliament in a ruling on October 25, 1963, at page 488 of the Journals. The authorities he quoted included even an 1864 decision of Mr. Speaker Wallbridge of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada.
Far more recently, though, is a ruling which you, Mr. Speaker, delivered on October 24, 2011, starting at page 2404 of the Debates, respecting C-18, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act. You summarized the position in which you found yourself then and, I would submit, where you are now:
—it is important to delineate clearly between interpreting legal provisions of statutes—which is not within the purview of the Chair—and ensuring the soundness of the procedures and practices of the House when considering legislation—which, of course, is the role of the Chair.
The final point noted by the government House leader is that the allegations referred to by the member for Winnipeg Centre are before the courts. Until the matter is resolved, this House should exercise its usual restraint and avoid prejudging or prejudicing the outcome of the case in which I, as Attorney General of Canada, am a party. Nonetheless, I am compelled to respond to the case argued.
In the present circumstances, finding a prima facie case of privilege would require that there be some evidence that the House and its members have been impeded in carrying out their parliamentary duties. Despite the hon. member's allegations, he admitted in his submission that he has “no evidence to suggest that the incumbent Minister of Justice nor any of his predecessors have deliberately provided inaccurate information to the House, even implicitly”.
Page 141 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, observes, on questions of privilege:
The function of the Speaker is limited to deciding whether the matter is of such a character as to entitle the Member who has raised the question to move a motion which will have priority over Orders of the Day.
To accomplish this, the member for Winnipeg Centre would seek to have the Speaker rely upon the unproven and untested allegations made by a plaintiff in a court proceeding. I would respectfully submit that if this is to become the threshold for setting aside the business of the House sponsored by members, whether they be ministers or private members, we could easily paralyze the business of Parliament by taking up any number of litigants' unproven and untested statements of claim. Therefore, I discourage you, Mr. Speaker, from making a finding of a prima facie case of privilege on that basis.
However, it is incumbent upon me to explain why the member for Winnipeg Centre has not made such a case. While I exercise my statutory responsibilities with the assistance of officials, the duty to examine government legislation under the Department of Justice Act and the Canadian Bill of Rights is mine, as Minister of Justice. It is a duty that I, of course, take very seriously. As I will explain, this government has never introduced any legislation that I believe was inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Bill of Rights.
As to the manner in which I exercise that responsibility, my statutory duty is owed to the House of Commons. Our proceedings make this clear on a daily basis. As Minister of Justice, I regularly answer questions in the House and appear before parliamentary committees studying government legislation. Members can and do ask me questions about the constitutionality of government bills. For example, the hon. member for Mount Royal, a former Attorney General, has, on at least three separate occasions, asked a series of detailed written questions. However, my officials and I are legal advisers to the Crown and not to the House of Commons. As a minister of the Crown, I appear in this House and in committees to explain the government's legal position on the legislation it has introduced, but I am not the House's exclusive source of legal information. Members can and often do receive legal opinions from the law clerk and parliamentary counsel as well as the views or submissions of law professors and other members of the bar who appear before committees to assist them in evaluating the legislation being considered. A similar process unfolds in the other place.
My approach to the constitutionality of government legislation is consistent with that of my predecessors and is a matter of public record. Under the Department of Justice Act, as the Minister of Justice, I am the official legal adviser to the Governor General and the legal member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. One of my responsibilities is to examine government bills presented to the House of Commons and to ascertain whether they are inconsistent with the purposes of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to report any such inconsistency to the House of Commons. The Canadian Bill of Rights requires me to conduct a similar review for inconsistency.
The notion that Parliament has somehow been misled reflects a misunderstanding of how the system actually works. Proposed government legislation is reviewed for charter and other legal risks throughout the policy and legislative development processes. The process of examining government legislation for compliance is dynamic and ongoing. Section 4.1 is only one part of a broader process that involves three distinct components: advisory, certification and reporting.
The advisory component takes places throughout the policy development process, up to and including the introduction of legislation. This typically begins with the development of the policy proposal by government departments. It continues as the proposal is refined, as options are developed and put before ministers and throughout the legislative drafting process.
Senior officials, up to and including the deputy minister of justice, other deputy ministers and where necessary, other ministers and I are briefed about policy proposals where legal risks have been identified. The risks that are highlighted are not limited to situations where the proposed legislation is inconsistent with the charter. It is a broader analysis of risks along a spectrum, from low to high risk for charter inconsistency.
Certification of legislation is a separate process that takes place after government bills have been introduced in the House of Commons. It is a formal step whereby the department's chief legislative counsel confirms, that is certifies, that the requisite review of legislation for inconsistency has taken place. Certification takes place for all government bills.
Certification should not be confused with the reporting obligation in section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act and section 3 of the Canadian Bill of Rights. Certification is a task for government officials and takes place for all government bills. By contrast, the reporting obligation belongs to the Minister of Justice alone and would be triggered only if I, as the minister, formed the opinion that the government bill in question was, at the time of its introduction, inconsistent with the charter or the Canadian Bill of Rights. Section 4.1 and section 3 are quite clear in that regard. They require the minister to ascertain whether there is an inconsistency. This accords with the long-standing approach I and my predecessors have taken in that the minister makes such an ascertainment only when there is no credible argument to support the proposed measure.
A credible argument is one that is reasonable, bona fide and capable of being raised before, and accepted by, the court. This credible argument threshold is qualitative in nature, despite the allegations quoted by the member for Winnipeg Centre. It is not based on a predetermined numerical threshold. Section 4.1 uses very precise language. It does not require that there be disclosure any time there is a risk, only that I ascertain that there is inconsistency.
I must stress that the approach I have described is not new. It originates from the earliest days following the enactment of section 4.1.
Several of my predecessors have answered questions on this duty in the House or before our committees or those of the other place. For example, that could be found when the hon. Pierre Blais, currently Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal, was questioned about his responsibilities at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in June 1993. Similarly, the hon. member for Mount Royal answered questions on the topic before the same Senate committee in November 2005. My immediate predecessor, now the Minister of Public Safety, fielded related questions from the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs during its study of Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act, on June 29, 2006. I too have had the pleasure of explaining the government's legal position with respect to government bills such as a question in the House on November 23, 2007 about Bill C-2, the tackling violent crime act, or during my recent committee appearance on Bill S-9, the nuclear terrorism act, which I described earlier.
I could go on and quote from those exchanges, but I think the point is clear that this is nothing new and that Parliament possesses, and has long exercised, its ability to query and probe the constitutionality of bills.
Of course, we must remember that constitutional law constantly evolves. The only certainty is that someone will inevitably litigate constitutional questions against the government.
This explanation should put to rest the concerns of the member for Winnipeg Centre, and indeed, all hon. members.
Furthermore, under our constitutional system, all branches of government, Parliament, the executive and the courts have a responsibility to ensure that charter rights are respected. The system of charter review put in place under section 4.1 ensures that each branch performs its appropriate role. Within the executive branch, proposed legislative initiatives are reviewed, taking into consideration any charter risks that have been identified through the advisory process and recertification that the necessary review for inconsistency has taken place upon introduction of a government bill in the House of Commons. It is then for the houses of Parliament to debate the proposed law, including its constitutional implications, and to determine whether or not it will pass and become law.
The approach to reporting requirements in section 4.1 or section 3, as the case may be, and the underlying review process must reflect the role of all institutional actors, including Parliament, to consider, debate, weigh and balance charter interests in light of public policy objectives. Parliamentarians have their own responsibilities in relation to the charter.
In summary, I have great respect for the work of parliamentarians and for the role of this House in debating government legislation. I have explained how I approach my responsibilities under the Department of Justice Act. I take into account a variety of legal opinions and perspectives, which can differ, and then I make the decision.
There is no mystery here. Like all of my predecessors, the approach I apply under section 4.1 is robust and meaningful. Even after I make the decision that there is no inconsistency between the proposed legislation and the charter, it remains open for parliamentarians to debate the proposed legislation, including any charter aspects. If the legislation is passed, it can be challenged before the courts. This process has served governments and parliaments well.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, you have several procedural grounds on which you could reject this question of privilege, or you can accept the evidence from me, as a member of the House of Commons. The hon. member's claims, in my opinion, can be dismissed outright.
Finally, I understand that the hon. member for Mount Royal may be making an intervention again on this question of privilege. I would like to reserve the right for myself or a colleague to respond in due course should any new issues not previously canvassed arise.
Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board--Speaker's Ruling
January 31st, 2012 / 10:10 a.m.
The Speaker Andrew Scheer
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on December 8, 2011, by the member for Guelph in relation to proceedings on Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts.
I would like to thank the member for having raised this matter, as well as the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the House Leader of the Official Opposition for their interventions.
In raising his concerns, the member for Guelph argued that the Federal Court finding on the actions of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board in relation to Bill C-18 supported his claim that the manner in which the government managed proceedings on the bill violated his privileges as well as those of other members, and rendered the bill and therefore the House's consideration of it, illegal. Given the court's finding, he asked me as Speaker to reconsider the basis for my previous ruling of October 24, 2011 on this same matter, in which I reminded the House that it is the responsibility of the courts and not the Speaker to rule on legal matters.
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons stated that the decision of the court on this matter in no way limited Parliament's right and ability to legislate, and reminded the House of the undisputed principle that a previous Parliament cannot fetter a future one. Furthermore, he claimed that the House, having already made a decision on this bill, was no longer seized of this matter and, thus, had no jurisdiction to deal with it.
The member for Guelph argues that the decision rendered by the Federal Court has a bearing on the question of the correctness of our proceedings in relation to Bill C-18. He maintains that, despite the Chair having already answered the question in previous rulings, the court decision somehow creates new circumstances.
It is the view of the Chair that the fundamental issue remains unaltered; namely, that the member for Guelph is essentially still asking the Speaker to rule on a matter of law. This, as I have gone to great lengths to explain previously, is something the Speaker cannot do.
In my ruling of October 24, 2011, on page 2405 of the House of Commons Debates, I commented on a long-standing principle that has guided me and my predecessors on the Chair's role in interpreting constitutional and legal matters. I stated:
...it is important to delineate clearly between interpreting legal provisions of statutes—which is not within the purview of the Chair—and ensuring the soundness of the procedures and practices of the House when considering legislation—which, of course, is the role of the Chair.
At the same time, I reminded the House of Speaker Fraser's ruling of April 9, 1991, at pages 19233 and 19234 of the Debates, in which he declared that the Chair must avoid interpreting, even indirectly, the Constitution or a statute.
On April 12, 2005, at page 4953 of the House of Commons Debates, Speaker Milliken stated much the same thing when asked to rule on the admissibility of a bill that would have required him to interpret the constitutionality of a clause of proposed legislation. He stated at the time:
...the Speaker does not make rulings on matters of law; on parliamentary law perhaps, but not on the law of the Constitution or on other laws that affect us. The question of the interpretation of the section of the bill is one that would be determined by a court if the bill in fact becomes law. At the moment, it is a bill before Parliament and Speakers in the past have not ruled on the constitutionality or otherwise of clauses in a bill....Rulings of courts may chuck out some of the clauses that are adopted by this House in a bill, but that happens after the House has passed it and the Senate has passed it and it has received royal assent, because even the courts have no jurisdiction in the matter before.
In the same ruling, Speaker Milliken spelled out for the House the very limited kinds of legal and constitutional matters that Speakers may rule on when he stated:
What they may decide is whether the terms of a bill are in compliance with a prior resolution of this House, a ways and means motion, for example, or a royal recommendation in respect of a money bill, but beyond that, Speakers do not intervene in respect of the constitutionality or otherwise of provisions in the bills introduced in this House.
That the Federal Court granted a breach declaration regarding the actions of the minister with respect to the bill does not fundamentally change either the nature of the question being raised or the role of the Speaker in answering it. To find that the member was obstructed or interfered with in the performance of his duties because he participated in the legislative proceedings on a bill that was allegedly improperly before the House would require me to rule on the legality of the bill and this is simply outside the bounds of what can be considered by the Speaker.
Instead, just as I did in my ruling of October 24, 2011 on this same matter, I must again confine myself to the procedural aspects of the question. Now, as then, I can find no evidence to substantiate the member's claim that there has been an interference with members' ability to fulfill their parliamentary duties. As such, I cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege.
I thank all members for their attention.
Business of the House
December 15th, 2011 / 3:10 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to give my last Thursday statement of 2011. The fall has been a productive, hard-working and orderly session. It has been capped by results that we have seen in the House during delivering results month since we returned from the Remembrance Day constituency week.
Of particular note, this fall the House passed Bill C-13, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act; Bill C-20, the fair representation act; Bill C-18, the marketing freedom for grain farmers act; and Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act.
Other things were also accomplished, from the appointment of two officers of Parliament to the passing at second reading of Bill C-26, the Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act. I would like to thank the opposition parties who made these accomplishments possible. Nevertheless, the House has a lot of work to do when it returns in 2012.
The things I am looking forward to in 2012 include, after 48 speeches so far, returning to Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act; after 75 speeches so far, continuing debate on second reading of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act; after 73 speeches so far, continuing debating the opposition motion to block Bill C-4, the preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system act from proceeding to committee; and, after 47 speeches so far, continuing debate on second reading of Bill C-7, the Senate reform act.
This winter, the government's priority will continue to be economic growth and job creation. We will thus continue to move forward with our economic agenda by debating legislative measures such as Bill C-23 on the implementation of a Canada-Jordan free trade agreement; Bill C-24 on the implementation of a Canada-Panama free trade agreement; Bill C-25, which is designed to give Canadians another way to plan for retirement through pooled registered pension plans; and Bill C-28 on the appointment of a financial literacy leader.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to the 2012 budget, the next phase of Canada's economic recovery, from the Minister of Finance, and I am looking forward to what I am sure it will deliver for the Canadian economy. This will be the cornerstone of the upcoming session.
With respect to the precise business of the House for the week of January 30, 2012, I will advise my counterparts in the usual fashion in advance of the House returning.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, please let me wish you, my fellow house leaders, all hon. members and our table officers and support staff a very merry Christmas.
In particular, I want to thank the pages, many of whom, as we know, spent their first significant amount of time away from home with us this fall. I wish them a pleasant time back home with family over Christmas. Perhaps we have provided some good stories for them to tell around the dinner table.
Merry Christmas, happy new year and all the best for the break. Here is to a productive, orderly and hard-working 2012.
Merry Christmas and happy new year. May the members of the House rest up in preparation for the hard work to come in a productive and orderly 2012.
Canadian Wheat Board
December 14th, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.
Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
Mr. Speaker, the new year will be bright for western Canadian farmers. We are continuing to proceed with Bill C-18. We will move it through, and it will receive royal assent.
Farmers in western Canada, at the time of royal assent, will be able to start forward-contracting their crop. It is their property, and they will be able to move it. We will not allow the leader of the third party and his elves to steal Christmas and that great new year's present for the farmers of western of Canada.
Canadian Wheat Board
December 14th, 2011 / 2:55 p.m.
Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
Mr. Speaker, I think we will rename this bill CF-35 to get it through even faster.
Let me quote the member for Winnipeg Centre who said, “Parliament has the right to overturn legislation put in place by previous governments. Then he goes on to say, “I don't want every piece of legislation to have a poison pill clause like this in it. I don't know of any other legislation that has such a clause”.
Neither do we. That is why we are moving forward with Bill C-18, to ensure that farmers in western Canada have the clarity and certainty they need on next year's crop and every crop after that.
Canadian Wheat Board
December 14th, 2011 / 2:55 p.m.
Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB
CF-18 is the other insult to the Prairies, Mr. Speaker.
The CWB may just, in fact, win this court injunction because Bill C-18 offends the rule of law.
Now, if the minister wants to stop chaos and pandemonium, and uncertainty and instability in the grain industry, why does he not just grant the vote for the future of the Wheat Board to prairie farmers, as they are guaranteed in legislation and avoid all this mess on the Prairies?
December 13th, 2011 / 7:05 p.m.
Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE
Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary certainly misses the point. If there is one thing that will be certain as a result of the government's action in destroying the Canadian Wheat Board, it will be uncertainty in the grain markets. That will be the bottom line.
The key point is that we are asking the government to abide by the rule of law, as the Federal Court has asked it to do. We are asking the government to respect farmers' opinion and allow farmers the right to have their say on their marketing institution. The Conservatives have denied them that right.
However, the Conservatives went very far and even managed to intimidate their own bureaucrats to the point that the deputy minister of agriculture confirmed at the Senate committee on Bill C-18 that rather than provide the minister with objective advice he stated, “I was asked to indicate the studies that support that”, meaning the open market option, “and I have done so”. There were other objective studies. He failed to release them. The government has even intimidated the bureaucracy.
Why does the government not abide by the rule of law?
December 13th, 2011 / 6:55 p.m.
Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE
Madam Speaker, in my question on November 4, I asked the minister to explain his act of misleading the committee and why he deliberately refused to meet the board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board.
Knowing this minister's tactics, I should not have been surprised by the minister's deceptive and misleading response when he claimed that the board refused to meet with him. That, as the board has since confirmed, was not true.
In fact, every action the government has taken in its fevered efforts to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board was summed up in the Federal Court decision of December 7 as being “an affront to the rule of law”.
The minister claims he represents farmers, and cites the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association and Western Barley Growers Association on every occasion. These organizations, by their own admission, have gone from 3,130 members to about 730 members, not all of whom reside in western Canada.
Clearly this is a government that believes freedom can be given by destroying democracy. This is a government that has brought forward legislation based upon deception and lies. It is a government that has used threats, intimidation, firing and gag orders on the board. This is a Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food who has the gall to stand in front of western farmers and tell them that he would do nothing until farmers decided to make a change to the Canadian Wheat Board.
Farmers, the minister said, “are absolutely right to believe in democracy. I do, too.” He again broke his word, because he never held the vote under section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act that would have allowed farmers to have that voice. In fact, the Federal Dourt has said, as I indicated a moment ago, that it was “an affront to the rule of law”.
This is a government whose parliamentary secretary claimed in this House that the Canadian Wheat Board of 1943 was the same as the CWB today. This deliberately ignored the fact that legislation was brought forward in 1997 which allowed an elected board of farm directors to control and manage the board.
This is a Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food who will now deliberately expropriate the property of farmers and will appoint five of his cronies, his hacks or those he wants to pay off to direct the Wheat Board. This will change the Canadian Wheat Board from being run by an elected board of farm directors to being run by a few hacks controlled by the Government of Canada.
To whom do these political appointees answer? Where do they get their direction and marching orders? From the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food's office itself.
This is a minister who just increased the contingency fund to $200 million, a fund that he and his hard cronies can manipulate as they wish, a point confirmed by the deputy minister of agriculture himself.
I will conclude by saying that when faced with a government that is guided by the same moral compass as a bully, as a thug, it should come as no surprise that extraordinary measures are required.
The Prime Minister is fond of declaring that he would like Canada to reflect certain provisions of the BNA Act, in terms of the federal relationship to other levels of government. Section 55 of that act, long in disuse but still contained in the Constitution document, provides the Governor General with the option of withholding or reserving assent to legislation.
Bill C-18 is premised on a violation of law. Its very genus is based on an affront to the rule of law. Perhaps the Governor General should give consideration to using section 55 to deny this—
Canadian Wheat Board
December 9th, 2011 / 11:40 a.m.
David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board
Mr. Speaker, we are in agreement with western Canadian farmers that they want certainty as soon as possible. They want certainty on January 1, 2012. They want to know that they can go out and start to book their contracts for next year and they want to know that they can deal with the people who they want to deal with. They want freedom and we will give them that.
The hearings are proceeding through the Senate committee. The bill will go back to the Senate. We look forward to the passing of Bill C-18 and we look forward to western Canadian farmers finally having the same freedoms that everyone else in Canada already has.
Statements By Members
December 9th, 2011 / 11 a.m.
Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK
Mr. Speaker, last spring Canadians elected a government that is listening and keeping its promises.
Canadians told me they wanted a government that would make keeping their children and communities safe a priority. As promised, within the first 100 sitting days of Parliament, we will pass Bill C-10.
Farmers in my riding told me that they wanted the freedom to market their own wheat and barley. We are delivering by passing Bill C-18.
I regularly hear how wasteful the long gun registry is. I am very pleased that the government is passing Bill C-19 to end this discrimination against law-abiding citizens.
People across Canada have also told me of the need for increased transparency and accountability for first nations governance. I am proud that the government has introduced Bill C-27.
We have listened and we have acted.