House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments on this, but I still need to get some clarification. If Bill C-2 is going to make amendments to Bill C-11 to make it better, Bill C-11 still has to be proclaimed before Bill C-2 is proclaimed. We have to have an act that is actually in force and in law before Bill C-2.

If the member wants Bill C-2 to be in place and passed before we rise on December 15, should not Bill C-11 be proclaimed so that we can get the process moving? Everyone would understand the rules of the game under which they would be operating. It just is not clear enough to the public service whether or not the provisions in Bill C-11 as amended by Bill C-2 are going to be in place.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the concern I would have is if the government proclaimed Bill C-11 and Bill C-2 was not passed, we would end up with Bill C-11 on the books. What I am saying to the member very directly is that Bill C-11 was flawed. Procedurally the member is correct in terms of the sequence that needs to happen and could happen.

What is in front of us right now is a bill that was passed here as amended and sent to the other place where it was meddled with. Quite frankly in some cases it was gutted and the whole orientation of the bill was changed and sent back to us.

For those who would blow the whistle it is small comfort to them that the intent of the other place was to improve it. At the end of the day what we have to look at is those markers that I mentioned before. The rules have to be clarified. The public interest has to be established. In the case of whistleblowers, having Bill C-11 proclaimed and then having Bill C-2 come into play could happen.

The concern I would have is if Bill C-11 were proclaimed and Bill C-2 did not pass, we would have a substandard whistleblower act. That is not good enough for the women and men who work in the public service.

Another side to that is that we need to extend the whistleblower legislation beyond crown corporations and governments. We need to talk about people who receive public dollars who are doing research. We have heard stories of people who are doing research in universities who are trying to follow the public interest and do the public service by blowing the whistle and they are not covered by the bill. We need to take a look at that after the bill is passed and perhaps amend it down the road. I suppose that is for another day but for now, we should pass this bill. Then we could get on to getting really decent whistleblower protection for the women and men in the public service.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

November 20th, 2006 / 5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-2, the so-called accountability act, a bill that was put together with a great deal of haste and one which has returned from the other place with a number of important amendments. I would like to speak to the spirit of this bill and the underlying motivations that seem to have resulted in legislation which, as we have discovered, is technically flawed in many respects and substantively flawed in its objectives.

I appreciate the work of the senators in the other place from both parties, in particular Senator Joe Day who has put forward reasonable amendments to make this legislation better. There were 30 days of hearings in the other place, 150 witnesses and a lot of very positive work.

When Bill C-2 was presented in this House it was done so under the political environment of a recent election and the concern that many Canadians had about ensuring that the taxpayers' money was protected from abuse. From the outset many of us were uncomfortable with the rapid and now we see irresponsible rush in which the President of the Treasury Board proceeded. Liberal members raised these concerns at committee.

In fact, the vast majority of amendments proposed by the Liberal members on the Bill C-2 committee last spring were defeated by the NDP-Conservative coalition. This was done for political and partisan reasons. It was clear then that public relations and scoring cheap political points were more important than bringing forward legislation that would in fact live up to its name.

After hearing more than 140 witnesses through many hours of hearings, the Senate committee under the leadership of Senator Day has placed before us amendments that we should seriously consider. Notwithstanding the constant flow of feigned outrage from the Treasury Board president, it would be totally irresponsible for the government and the House to ignore reasonable amendments that seek to strengthen the legislation thereby ensuring that it is in line with the charter and in the public interest.

In fact, it was the Treasury Board president who suggested in his own appearance before the Senate that the bill had been, to use his exact words, “examined with a microscope”. We now find out that this microscope was more like a periscope: long on rhetoric and narrow in focus.

David Hutton, coordinator of the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform, described the drafting process that was employed to craft Bill C-2 as “deeply flawed”. He said that the bill “is complex and is full of loopholes when you dig into it. I feel that the committees have been given an impossible task, namely trying to turn this into effective legislation that meets intent”.

In addition to repairing numerous drafting errors which should have been caught before the bill was introduced, key amendments that came back include political financing. This is an area of particular importance to me, as it is to all members of the House of Commons. Not only am I a member of Parliament but, as many other members have done, I have run campaigns for other candidates and have worked a lot of elections. I was the president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party sitting on the national executive and got involved in the financing of political parties.

It is important that we ensure that any new political donation regime does not unfairly restrict the participation of political parties in debate. I suggest the proposed change to $2,000 per year, the limit that came back from the other place, is an important change.

In 2003 Bill C-24 was introduced and passed by the Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien. It radically changed how elections are financed in Canada, notably reducing the amount of allowable donations to political parties. The current President of the Treasury Board acknowledged the usefulness of Bill C-24, which in fact contained a clause for its review, but there has been no review. There has just been introduction in this bill of more political reform, which I do not think makes a lot of sense.

Clearly, the government has failed to produce any evidence that the existing limits are undermining the electoral process at the federal level. Furthermore, political donations play an important role in our democratic system. Limiting them too strictly has the potential to limit participation of smaller political parties, as well as all Canadians who wish to participate in the political system.

Why would the government introduce these strict limits? If we look across Canada at what provinces are doing in their own electoral districts, it is pretty interesting. I would like to take a minute to let people know what those limits are across Canada right now.

In Newfoundland and Labrador there are no contribution limits to political parties.

In Prince Edward Island there are no contribution limits.

In Nova Scotia there have been none. In fact, last week new political financing legislation was brought forward into the House of Assembly in Nova Scotia. I believe the limit there would be $5,000.

In New Brunswick there is a maximum of $6,000 during a calendar year to each registered political party or to a registered district association of that registered political party.

In Quebec contribution limits are a maximum of $3,000 to each party, independent member and independent candidate, collectively, during the same calendar year.

Ontario has contribution limits. The maximum contribution a person, corporation or trade union may make is $7,500 to each party in a calendar year and in any campaign period; $1,000 in any calendar year to each constituency association; an aggregate of $5,000 to the constituency associations of any one party; $1,000 to each candidate in a campaign period; an aggregate of $5,000 to candidates endorsed by any one party.

In Manitoba individuals may contribute a maximum of $3,000 in a calendar year to candidates, constituency associations or registered political parties, or any combination.

In Saskatchewan there are no limits on contributions.

In Alberta the limits are $15,000 to each registered party, $1,000 to any registered constituency association, and $5,000 in the aggregate to constituency associations of each registered party, and then further regulations in any campaign period: $30,000 to each registered party, less any amount contributed to the party in the calendar year.

In British Columbia registered political parties or constituency associations may accept a maximum of $10,000 in permitted anonymous contributions. Candidates, leadership contestants and nomination contestants may accept a maximum of $3,000 in permitted contributions.

In Yukon there are no contribution limits.

The Northwest Territories has what seem to be the strictest limits. An individual or corporation may contribute a maximum of $1,500 to a candidate during a campaign period, but a candidate may contribute a maximum of $30,000 of his or her own funds in his or her own campaign.

These election limits that have been brought in dramatically exceed any other election financing reform that has been brought in across Canada, reforms that have been brought in, in provinces led by a whole series of different types of government, different parties in power.

One witness at the Senate committee, Arthur Kroeger, the chair of the Canadian Policy Research Networks and a former deputy minister in five federal government departments, told the Senate committee:

What problem are we trying to solve? Were there abuses when the level was $5,400? I do not know. I do not remember reading of any such abuses. Were there abuses that merit the reduced levels of contributions that were permitted by business and unions? If you cannot identify the problem that justifies a provision in the bill, then have you lost balance and have you pushed things too far? Those are questions in my mind...Do we truly need to go that far to achieve good governance and are we risking harm? It is possible.

When we look at what provinces across the country have done, that would seem to back that up.

It is certainly not just Liberals who are making the case that these stringent donation limits are unreasonable and unnecessary. Lowell Murray, a Progressive Conservative senator from the great province of Nova Scotia, a highly respected figure and a former close adviser to two Progressive Conservative former prime ministers, the Right Hon. Joe Clark and the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, said in the Senate recently, I believe on third reading, after the committee hearings, “I would delete from the bill all the provisions respecting political financing”.

There are a lot of very interesting comments, but let me just stick to the political financing piece. He talked about examples of how this legislation is flawed. He went on to say:

Another example is in the creation of a directorate of public prosecutions. This may or may not be necessary--probably not--

To get back to financing, he said:

This bill purports to introduce further reforms to our political financing and elections laws. The committee has recommended amendments to the government's proposals. I am more persuaded by the argument of Professor Peter Aucoin, who told the committee that those proposals have no place in the omnibus Bill C-2 and should be considered as part of an overall examination of elections and political financing law.

He said later in his speech:

The examination of our political financing and election laws that I believe is necessary must go forward, in my view, and my amendment would remove from Bill C-2 the various provisions relating to political financing in the hope of a principled examination of this whole field, a principled examination of our electoral and parliamentary democracy, by people who have relevant experience in it.

That speaks directly to the issue of this bill being too large and too cumbersome, trying to do too many things for political reasons and not being based on evidence nor history.

Increasing the maximum personal contribution to $2,000 from the proposed $1,000 would still be a significant reduction from the current $5,400 that came in under Bill C-24, but I would support the $2,000 limit.

There are many other amendments that involve access to information and technical changes that were necessary because it was rushed legislation. Certainly, the clearest proof of that was the recent attempt to alter the legislation to cover up the practice of the Conservative Party of not counting delegate fees as political donations, which was clearly not the intent of the act. It was never understood by any political party that I know of as being the case, and it has been acknowledged by Canada's Chief Electoral Officer as being the wrong policy.

One of the advantages of the other place looking at this so carefully was that it gave people a chance to make some comments, people who have expertise in this area. I had mentioned before Mr. Kroeger, the chair of the Canadian Policy Research Network. He also said:

If the legislation had been written by a government with more experience in office, it may not have some items in it that it does, which I will explain in a minute.

He went on to explain, and then said:

There is the other problem that some of the contents of legislation were, I think, developed during an election campaign, and there is always a risk of a bit of overkill for the sake of achieving a public effect--

Dr. David Zussman, the Jarislowsky Chair in Public Sector Management at the University of Ottawa, indicated, in talking about the new positions in this bill:

In each case, we are creating new positions at considerable cost to the taxpayers of Canada, so we have to ask ourselves simply will these costs produce results that will make a tangible difference or a marginal difference over the information and analysis that we already have.

Alan Leadbeater, deputy information commissioner of the Office of the Information Commissioner, suggested:

--Bill C-2 would authorize new and broad zones of secrecy, which will have the effect of reducing the accountability of government through transparency...Bill C-2 will reduce the amount of information available to the public, will weaken the oversight role of the Information Commissioner, will increase government’s ability to cover up wrongdoing and shield itself from embarrassment.

These are a number of comments that came from the hearings that were held in the other place.

This is a deeply flawed bill. I support accountability and I support some of the measures that are in this bill, but these amendments that have come back from the other place are worthy of everybody's attention and support.

It is obvious to most people, except perhaps those on the government side, that this bill is a blunt instrument to achieve political gains. As is so often the case when politics is the primary motivation, bad law is created, and thankfully we now have an opportunity to correct these flaws. I encourage all parties to support these amendments and to make this legislation live up to its name, the accountability act.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech by my colleague from Nova Scotia. If the amendments presented by the Liberal Party are not adopted, does he plan to go on record as opposing the bill?

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think it is safe for anybody in public life to take things one step at a time. The most important thing for us to do is to make the case for these amendments, to put them forward, and to convince my hon. colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, that they in fact enhance his bill and make it easier to accomplish the goals that are stated.

We should all vote on those amendments and then decide how we vote on the bill. He is not Kreskin. He will not know how I vote until later this week or next week, but I will give it every consideration.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how the government talks about the Liberal senators who hung the bill up, but I know that the President of the Treasury Board actually accepted a very large number of those amendments. Of some 140, I think 40 were actually made by Conservative senators. They have a job to do and it is reflective of the work that they did. It is a mischaracterization of the Senate's work to say that they are dragging their feet because they did their job. They had the time to do it which we were not given in this place. That is the reality.

The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour raises some interesting aspects, but I want to share with him one thing I found at a conference two weeks ago at which I was a panellist. It dealt with accountability. One of the consistent messages coming from the legal professors and experts commenting on the bill was that they were concerned that the bill was based on a foundation of presumption of guilt of the public service, politicians and everyone involved in public life as opposed to the presumption of innocence. The concern was that many of the administrative overlays being proposed in Bill C-2 would decrease the productivity of the public service because everyone was swept under the same umbrella of guilt.

It is an interesting point for them to raise. I wonder if the member has a comment on whether or not the concerns with regard to the accountability of this place should have focused more in terms of where the risk elements were and where we needed to shore up things rather than to blanket the whole system with a layer of administrative and unproductive activity.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's point is entirely correct. One of the things that makes the bill so flawed is that it attempts to solve a lot of problems which actually do not exist and does not get at some of the problems that do exist.

We heard from the opposite side that some of these recommendations came as a result of circumstances reported by Justice John Gomery. In fact, Professor Denis Saint-Martin of the University of Montreal said, in terms of recommending what needs to be fixed, the two approaches are totally different. In some other ways, as I indicated with political financing, we are not getting at what the problems really are. We are focused on the wrong issues and taking attention away from those things that really matter.

We in this place all agree that the people at the Public Service of Canada are worthy of our respect and we are thankful to them. They are honest hard-working people. We need to ensure that any changes that we make respect that and if there is behaviour that needs to be corrected, we catch that behaviour, but not blanket the entire public service and direct our attention on circumstances or issues that are not broken. We should focus on things that need attention.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation made by my counterpart across the way. I just checked the member's financial return on the Elections Canada website. He had four individuals who gave $1,000 or more. One of them gave over $1,000. I want to know, if he only had one donation in the last election from an individual for over $1,000, why he is worried about capping it at $1,000? He did get six corporate donations of $1,000 or more which is interesting, but I want to know why he is concerned about that one donation?

Federal Accountability Act
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5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that my colleague from Burlington cares enough about me to be checking up on my personal information and my campaigns. I would be happy to send him my brochures and he might learn a little bit from that.

The fact that I only had one donation of more than $1,000 shows that we do not act in self-interest on this side of the House. We act in the public interest on this side of the House. We want to do what is right for Canada. We want to do what is right for all people. We want people to participate in the democratic process in a way that makes sense.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak this afternoon about Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act. The Bloc Québécois really liked this bill, which seeks to make democracy more transparent. That is why the Bloc Québécois put its heart and soul into studying this bill, a process that was conducted at a fast pace.

This morning, the President of the Treasury Board stated that he was proud of his race for the Guinness record. He said that this bill could have been adopted just nine weeks after the election on January 23 and that members had put in 90 hours of work in six weeks and had passed the bill in 72 days. He was bragging and very proud of this performance, when he should have been a bit sad. Today, he can see that that whole mad dash was for nought.

I had the pleasure of sitting on the Bill C-2 legislative committee. I saw, with my own eyes, that the witnesses did not have time to explain fully. They had only two minutes each and had to speak in quick succession. The witnesses had no time to go into detail, and we did not have time to question them. They gave us lengthy documents that we did not have time to consult. We did not even have time to read them between the meetings.

It is only natural that a bill that was looked at quickly should come back to this House today with so many amendments. This is a substantial bill approximately 200 pages in length, with 300 clauses. Some witnesses even refused to appear before the Bill C-2 legislative committee, saying that they had not had time to study and analyze the bill. As a result, we did not hear all the important witnesses.

When there were witnesses, I nearly always used what little time I had to ask them one question that I felt was crucial. I asked them whether they believed that, with the bill as it is currently written, the sponsorship scandal could happen again.

Unfortunately none of the witnesses said this could not happen again, despite the 300 clauses in the bill. This needed to happen quickly and we did not have the time to look at anything. Furthermore, we knew, and we said, that this bill had some problems. If you check the blues of that committee, you will see that a number of committee members—witnesses as well as MPs—noticed these problems, raised them and deplored them. We said time and time again that there would be problems.

There is a saying that goes, “Slowly but surely”. Another one goes, “Something worth doing is worth doing well”. We cannot make a flower grow any faster by pulling on its stem. Often a bill is like a small flower. Today, this government is no further ahead. It is far from its nine weeks—maybe it had an even shorter goal—and 72 hours of work. We should have taken our time.

The work done in committee is extremely important. However, it is nice to have the time, between two witnesses, to read what the witnesses have prepared or even to read it in advance if they had time to send documents beforehand. The members of the legislative committee did not have time to read the documents beforehand and did not have time to read them afterward because they had to hurry off to attend another committee meeting. In the meantime, while we were going over Bill C-2, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics slammed on the brakes, even though the Access to Information Act should have been included in BIll C-2.

The Access to Information Act was passed in 1983. Despite a number of requests for its review, it has stayed essentially the same. The Conservative government chose not to include the Access to Information Act in its Bill C-2. We know this is a mistake.

The President of the Treasury Board contends that further consultations are necessary. His colleague, the Minister of Justice, appeared before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics and told us to draft legislation. We told him that the legislation was already in place. Back in 1987, the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General made 100 recommendations to reform the act.

In August 2000, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Justice at the time struck a task force to review the act, the regulations and the policies on which the present access to information scheme is based. In November 2001, the Bryden committee—I do not know if that name rings a bell, Mr. Speaker, but it has been coming up regularly for quite a while in this place—proposed a dozen recommendations that it regarded as priorities. I should point out that the current Minister of Justice signed that report. This House also had an opportunity to debate this act, when a number of members introduced private members’ bills. The Information Commissioner even proposed a complete bill to the government in October 2005, that is to say one year ago.

When the justice minister came and asked us to submit a new bill to him, we said no, adding that he already had enough information, which he could have included in Bill C-2. We asked him to introduce a new access to information bill no later than December 15.

I bring up this very important motion passed in committee because I want to remind the Minister of Justice that he has very little time left to draft this bill. He has only 20 days or so left. I hope he is already working on it.

Of course, there is another proverb which says that nature abhors a vacuum. This is why the Senate proposed 158 amendments. Senators took their time. They reviewed the legislation and in fact they heard witnesses who had come before our committee. However, they took the time to talk to these people, to read their submissions and to listen to what they had to say. So, senators proposed 158 amendments. Now, the government is coming back with 50 clauses that it wants to change regarding these amendments. The Liberal Party also has an amendment dealing with at least four aspects of the bill, while the Bloc Québécois is proposing an amendment dealing with four measures.

This means that the House of Commons is doing the work that the committee should have done last spring, slowly, not too quickly, but surely.

The Bloc's amendments are very relevant. First, we have the two ethics commissioners. It is obvious that there should only be one commissioner, because the Senate's ethics counsellor is only accountable to a Senate committee. There is no need to elaborate on this situation. Let us just say that their ethics counsellor is somewhat like the Howard Wilson that we had here, who was accountable to the then Prime Minister.

As for the Canadian Wheat Board, it is appropriate that it be added to the list of organizations subject to the Access to Information Act. Why? Because three administrators are appointed by the government. The Auditor General already has the right to audit this board. Some say that the government does not fund this organization, but that is not true. It guarantees the contracts of the board's clients. For 20 years the Canadian Wheat Board has cost Canadian and Quebec taxpayers several billions of dollars. That is right. The money is not an issue. But at least the board should be subject to the Access to Information Act.

The Bloc amendments also require that documents used to prepare internal audit reports be subject to the Access to Information Act. Recent events, including the sponsorship scandal, have shown that it is absolutely necessary for the public to have access to these documents.

There is also an interpretation clause on the public interest. It seems to me that it is important to be able to act in the public interest when a document is not accessible. We must prove that it is in the public interest to have access. If it is proven to be in the public interest, it seems normal to me that a government open its books.

Finally, delegate expenses at political conventions must be considered donations because that is what they are. Delegates are charged almost $1,000 to attend a convention or meeting. However, we know that is not the real cost. Obviously a profit is made and that must be considered as financing.

These are the Bloc subamendments. As I mentioned earlier, the House of Commons is now doing the work that it should have done slowly but surely last spring.

In closing, I absolutely want to remind the President of Treasury Board's colleague, the Minister of Justice, that he only has 20 days to submit his access to information bill to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Federal Accountability Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying to the people watching this broadcast on television that the member for Malpeque will probably be making a speech. I therefore recommend that they postpone their suppers, because if they stay tuned, I am sure they will hear a good speech.

I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, for her speech. I am comfortable supporting the subamendment our colleagues from Quebec introduced. In light of the sponsorship scandal, it is very important for us, for all members of Parliament, to clean up the regulations and to clean up Canada's laws, and I am pleased with the member's positive intervention during this debate.

Federal Accountability Act
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6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

I would like to thank the President of the Treasury Board for his comments. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasize what I said about the question I asked each one of the witnesses who appeared before the legislative committee that studied Bill C-2. I asked each one of them if they believed that the measures in Bill C-2 would have prevented the sponsorship scandal. None of them said yes.

I would just like the minister to think about that. I know that Bill C-2 is a valiant attempt, but it cannot prevent the sponsorship scandal from happening again, even though that is what it set out to do.

Federal Accountability Act
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6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member. I am still really baffled by the Bloc's position on the Canadian Wheat Board. In the member's remarks, her information was inaccurate on several points as it related to the Canadian Wheat Board. I know that the committee was rushed. I know the Conservative government tried to rush the bill through so as not to give members on the committee time to really review the act properly.

The member indicated that there are three directors appointed by the government. There are actually five directors appointed by the government. There are 10 members elected by producers. According to the legal definition under the act, and by the government's own legal advice, it is not an agency of the government. In fact, subsection 4(2) of the Canadian Wheat Board Act states:

The Corporation is not an agency of Her Majesty and is not a Crown corporation within the meaning of the Financial Administration Act.

The fact of the matter is that what will be the net impact by the Bloc amendment putting the Canadian Wheat Board under access to information and doing Prime Minister Harper's bidding for him is--

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6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I remind the hon. member for Malpeque that he must refer to other members of Parliament by either their riding name or their title, not their family name.

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6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, my sincere apologies.

The president of the Canadian Wheat Board, in his letter to the Senate committee, not the House committee, said that this is what the impact would be:

The cost of responding to such requests is not insignificant...Therefore, the true beneficiaries of adding the [Canadian Wheat Board] to [Access to Information Act] will primarily be non-farmers such as competitors and foreign antagonists that would be able to make information requests.

In other words, these are nuisance requests.

There are several single desk selling agencies in Quebec quite similar to the Canadian Wheat Board, without, of course, appointed directors, but they are not entities of the government of Quebec either. Why would the Bloc Québécois be willing to impose, desirous of imposing, additional costs on primary producers? It is the producers who pay all the costs to the Canadian Wheat Board, not the Government of Canada. Why would the Bloc be willing to get in bed with the Prime Minister and disadvantage western Canadian grain farmers in terms of competing with the rest of the world? Why?