House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wheat.

Topics

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is definitely the case that western wheat farmers feel the Wheat Board does not act for their best interests when it comes to selling wheat. That is why they want marketing freedom.

The growers of the wheat are the farmers themselves. One thing we have noticed is that farmers who used to grow only wheat are now growing other crops that are not controlled by the Wheat Board. For example, there are more and more canola farmers. Why is that? Yes, canola makes good money on the market, but it is not controlled by the Wheat Board. We are seeing a trend. This is a reflection of the damaging effect that the Wheat Board can have on our wheat producers.

What we are asking for is marketing freedom. I do not know what the opposition members have against the word “freedom”. They should allow western farmers to choose to use the Wheat Board or not. If the Wheat Board has the value-added services that it says it offers, let it sell itself to farmers so that farmers will willingly choose it.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure to rise and support an economic sector that is critical to jobs and growth in this country. Make no mistake, Canadian farmers feed the world and they deserve the freedom to make their own business decisions.

Canada's farmers and food processors do more than produce the food for our tables, they drive over $35 billion of our exports and generate one in every eight Canadian jobs. The grain sector alone is specifically responsible for $16 billion to the farm gate and it is a major contributor to our economy. The agriculture industry has helped lead Canada's economic recovery and that is why it is a priority for the government.

The legislation that we have before us will help this vital economic sector continue to drive our country to new growth and prosperity. It will provide western Canadian wheat, durum and barley farmers with the same marketing freedom and opportunities as other farmers in Canada and around the world. It will allow grain producers in western Canada to make decisions based on what is best for their businesses, for their farms, for themselves.

I want to reiterate why marketing freedom is so vital to farmers in our grain industry. As we have heard the Minister of Agriculture say often, our government wants to help farmers make money from the marketplace, not from the mail box. Often that means levelling the playing field on the international stage. Sometimes it means getting government out of the way, so that farmers can farm and continue to drive our economy.

To empower our agricultural producers we need to open new markets and new avenues for profitability for farmers to accomplish that. They need the simple opportunity to succeed.

For the past six decades this has definitely not been the case for growers of wheat and barley in western Canada. The Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, born in a different time to meet different needs during the war, has cast a chill on key parts of the grain sector in western Canada. The six decade Canadian Wheat Board monopoly is yesterday's solution to yesterday's problems.

The fact is, today's entrepreneurial farmers are providing more and proving over and over that they can and will do better if they have control over their farm and businesses. For western Canadian grain farmers, this means a choice in how they market their own grain. It means a choice in when and where they will sell their crop. It means a choice on what price they sell their grain and between working through a voluntary wheat board or directly with the open market.

At the announcement in Acme, Alberta, a gentleman by the name of Bob Leinweber from Linden gave me a letter that he had written to a western producer. In it he talks about a letter from another farmer regarding the monopoly. Mr. Leinweber agrees with that individual. He wrote:

--monopoly sellers do enrich their owners as exemplified by OPEC in similar monopolies.

He went on to say:

The CWB was set up by the government as a buyer's monopoly to buy wheat from western Canadian wheat growers at less than the world price.

That was why the Wheat Board was set up. It is not a seller's monopoly, it is a buyer's monopoly. We know that western Canadian farmers are capable of marketing their own canola, pulse crops and oats. They do that already. They are also capable of marketing their wheat and barley.

I was in the dentist chair a couple of weeks ago when an elderly farmer walked in and said, “Mr. Sorenson, my father told me that having that Wheat Board would be good for us. When I told my three sons, who are now farming, they said, 'Dad, that was yesterday's problem, just get out of the way and let us do it. We are not afraid of marketing our own wheat and barley'”.

Our government is committed to giving farmers marketing freedom; a choice that, yes, they want and they deserve. As the Prime Minister recently said in Regina, “Our government is committed to giving western grain farmers the freedom to choose how to market their products--something eastern grain farmers have long taken for granted. This is not only a matter of principle, it will also lead to real economic benefits, to opportunities for years to come. An open grain market will attract new investment, encourage innovation, and create new jobs for Canadians”.

That is a point on which many industry leaders agree.

Stephen Vandervalk, president of the Grain Growers of Canada, said:

Ending the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly is clearly sending a signal that Canada is open for business. Value-added processing means value-added jobs and more opportunities for farmers to locally market their wheat.

Brian Otto, president of the Western Barley Growers Association, said recently:

I see a future for investment in Western Canadian agriculture...Under this new commercial system I see job creation and the revitalization of rural communities.

Farmers in the market need clarity and certainty that marketing freedom and an open market is on the horizon.

An open market would attract investment. It would encourage innovation and create value-added jobs, which would build a stronger economy and which would build a stronger local economy in many of our smaller communities and in our rural communities across the west.

An open market for the grain industry would strengthen the farming sector with better returns for farmers and for Canada as a whole.

We have had a taste, a small taste, of things to come earlier this month, with an announcement of a new pasta plant opening in Regina that would buy local Canadian durum wheat from farmers and create local jobs.

This is only a beginning. I look forward to many grand openings throughout the constituency of Crowfoot and the west of value-added processing, value-added pasta plants, value-added industries beginning in our rural communities. Marketing freedom would unlock new value-added investment, new jobs and new growth for Canada's economy.

The time is right for action. Canada's farmers grow world-class food in a global marketplace that is ripe with opportunity.

Our government will seize this opportunity for farmers. Our government will give farmers the marketing freedom they want and the marketing freedom that they deserve. Our government will free our farmers so they can continue to drive our economy and to feed the world.

Let me conclude by saying this. My grandfather moved to the place where I live, Killiam, Alberta, in 1905-06. For all those years, right up until he passed away in 1986, he farmed. I wish I could be like the member who spoke earlier who talked about the grandfather always having this fight. That was not the case with my grandfather. My grandfather said, “These are the rules. We'll abide by the rules. The Wheat Board is there. There's nothing we can do about it”. He did not really step up and say, “Let's change this”, although he was involved in municipal politics for 30 years.

This was never a driving force. However, over the years, less and less land got planted with wheat, less and less with barley, and there was just this drift into more and more canola, more and more pulse crops, and more and more of many of those other crops that were out of the Wheat Board's ability to market.

Canadian farmers have been voting with their air drills. They have been voting with what they are going to seed on their land. They have been putting in less and less wheat and more and more of the other crops. It is time we also allow them the ability to vote on this issue with their grain trucks and let them decide where they take their grain and to whom they market it.

The Canadian Wheat Board, at one point, was the largest marketing agent in Canada. It has now slipped to number three, behind Viterra and Cargill. Farmers across the west realize that there are more opportunities than ever before to sell their grain and they look forward to the opportunity to have the freedom to do so.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Crowfoot is a veteran member of Parliament, and I am sure he is aware of the conflict of interest guidelines and the code of conduct by which all members of Parliament are duty bound.

If we were to believe the Conservative talking points, that farmers would in fact enjoy an advantage if we get rid of the Wheat Board and that they would make more money if we get rid of the Wheat Board, would the member not agree that any Conservative member of Parliament who farms, produces grain, finds himself in a conflict of interest by virtue of the fact of not just voting on this Bill C-18 but even participating in the debate promoting Bill C-18?

When we bailed out the auto industry, the GM and Chrysler auto companies, there were Conservative members of Parliament who actually had car dealerships, even though neither of them were GM nor Chrysler, but they had the decency to recuse themselves from the debate associated with subsidizing the auto industry.

Would the member not agree that he, himself, and at least seven other Conservative MPs must recuse themselves from the debate and the vote on Bill C-18?

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have run in five elections and been very clear that I believed in marketing freedom in all of those elections.

I think people expect me to stand here and vote, as I would expect most union members in the NDP would vote on issues that deal with unions. I am not certain how many of the NDP members voted on the postal agreement that we had. I think most of them voted.

Members on this side have never stood and said that we are going to receive more dollars for our wheat than we would under the Wheat Board. We have said that we want the freedom to choose. The rhetoric from the NDP and the Liberals is that there will be no markets, no rural Canada, no farmer left, and that the sky is falling.

On this side of the House, we have said that we want the opportunity to market our grain. Some may indeed decide to stay in the Wheat Board. That is why I like this approach that the government is taking. We have said that we do not want to get rid of the Wheat Board. It is the monopoly we want to get rid of, the single desk. We want to make certain that the Wheat Board is still viable. We have put in many new opportunities for the Wheat Board to become involved in marketing grain that it has not had before.

I look forward to this vote.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the remarks made by the member for Crowfoot and to what he was quoting from constituents.

We have been getting calls from quite a few of his constituents. I wonder why he never quoted some of them. They are saying that when they talk to this member, all they get from him is, “We disagree on ideology”, and that is about the end of the conversation.

I found it interesting that he talked about his grandfather wanting to follow the rules, yet in his remarks the member goes on and talks about the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly lasting six decades as if it was the same thing. This member knows that the board was changed in 1997 to a farmer-elected board of directors, and this member is denying those producers a right to vote.

We in the Liberal Party are not saying, “The sky is falling”, we are saying that those members on that side are taking away farmers' democratic rights. I have to ask the member, why is he taking away the farmers' rights to determine their destiny through a vote, for or against the Wheat Board?

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question coming from the former president of the National Farmers Union. This member stood and voted against the gun registry, and this member now stands voting against farmers' freedom for marketing grain.

We are not changing it so that there is no Wheat Board. This is where the court challenge may come from some farmer groups. We are not taking exclusive grains. We are not taking grains out of the Wheat Board's purview.

We are allowing the CWB to move into other provinces. We are allowing interprovincial transfer of grains. We are allowing the Wheat Board to function in other parts of Canada. We are not simply saying that we want to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board. We want to give it the opportunity to flourish in Ontario, like this member believes it very well may.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I, too, listened to my hon. colleague talk about the Wheat Board and the benefits of having choice. That is really what the whole debate is about, whether we have a choice of how we market the products that we invest all of our life's energy and finances in growing.

I have a question for the member opposite in relation to the question that was just asked. Does he really believe that we should be jailing farmers, as was done under a previous administration, for growing and selling their grain? Does he really believe they should be in prison for doing that?

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was a dark point in Canada's history when farmers stepped out to say that they wanted the opportunity to market their grain, to access higher prices across the border and to sell when and where they chose, and the Liberal government of the day responded by throwing in prison those who wanted that freedom. Law-abiding farmers, like Jim Ness, Rick Strankman, Tom Jackson and others, who had never broken the law and who had never stepped out even in the smallest place, were thrown into jail because the government lived with the ideology of big government doing everything for them. It was a sad mark on Canada and one that we want to clean up.

Shipbuilding Industry
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, even though the Davie shipyard was completely shut out of the $33 billion in contracts awarded to two of the three major shipyards in Canada, the NDP critic said, “This is a very good day for Canada, not just for the two winning shipyards. We are also happy to see that all of Canada will benefit.”

However, shipyards in eastern Quebec, in Matane and Les Méchins, were disqualified in favour of a strategy that groups the contracts in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Faced with public outcry in Quebec, the NDP is now trying to amend its position by recognizing the interests of Quebeckers, albeit a bit too late and without conviction.

The fact is that Quebec is an afterthought for this government and is a burden to the official opposition. The truth is that in this House, the federalist parties are happy for Canada even when it is a sad day for Quebec.

Bridge Awards
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, October 22, youth from the Blood Indian reserve, the town of Cardston and communities in the surrounding area presented the Bridge Awards, acknowledging the support of dozens of organizations and individuals who have contributed to building a more socially inclusive community and bridging the historical distance between local cultures, an ongoing project participants call Oneheart.

During the awards ceremony, first nation and non-native youth entertained guests with songs, speeches, dance and drama presentations. Earlier in the day, a play written, directed, produced and performed by local first nation youth called “A Tribute to the Highway of Tears” was presented. Later, Oneheart participants met and mingled with leaders from the Blood tribe, the town of Cardston and with provincial and federal representatives at an honoured guests dinner.

This event came to pass largely through the tenacity and vision of Sharon Unger and the Shinah House Foundation that she founded, and marks a major leap forward toward a new era of unity within diversity in the southern Alberta region.

Saint François Archipelago
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, north of my riding, on the Mille Îles river, is the Saint François archipelago, which is made up of the Saint-Joseph, Vaches and Saint-Pierre islands.

These islands are a prime location for a fauna and flora conservation area and they have great potential for ecotourism and recreation. Two conservation organizations, Éco-Nature and “Sauvons nos trois grandes îles”, have collaborated on research proving that the archipelago absolutely must be protected for its extraordinary nature and its ecosystem.

More than 40,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the appropriate authorities to acquire these 200 hectares of land and conserve this environment. By protecting this space, all those who depend on it will be sure to enjoy better physical and mental health.

I want to thank the members of “Sauvons nos trois grandes îles” for their hard work and I sincerely hope they achieve what they have set out to do.

YMCA Camps
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I advise the House that thousands of London kids will now be able to experience camp for the first time in their lives.

Thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers, a group that I was privileged to chair, our Y Fore Kids committee raised more than $1 million in just nine years, and created an endowment that will send less privileged kids from our London region to YMCA camps. To raise $1 million is an extraordinary event, and this $1 million endowment will be the gift that keeps on giving.

Colleagues, we all know how a camp experience can create better kids through leadership, opportunity and hope in a safe learning environment.

For these children, London's kids, Canada's kids, this will serve as one of the singular most powerful experiences they will ever receive.

I need to thank our sponsors and donors and especially want to acknowledge our title sponsors, Stevenson and Hunt Insurance, Hilton London and TD Bank. Their generosity and that of hundreds of other corporations over the years have our deepest gratitude.

For all of our volunteers, from the kids who will never know who they are but whose lives they have changed forever, we thank them for caring so much.

Rogers Communications
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer congratulations to Rogers Communications as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

For years, Rogers has connected communities like mine by investing in the creation and the development of first-class local programming. Shows like Grand Central, Skyways, Out of the Fog are where Newfoundlanders and Labradorians come together to hear and discuss the stories that matter.

This year alone, Rogers TV will produce thousands of hours of informative local programming in Newfoundland and Labrador, benefiting constituents like mine.

Rogers' local commitment extends past community broadcasting. OMNI Television and Citytv connect multicultural and urban communities across the country. Rogers Media Funds has invested millions in the development and distribution of quality Canadian television and film production from coast to coast to coast.

Throughout its history, Rogers Communications has truly understood that local matters.

On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I congratulate Rogers Communications.

Solange Parent
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, small gestures often make a big difference. Solange Parent embodied the spirit of kindness for her community and her family—her husband, Clément, and her children, Sylvain, Ghislain and Évelyne. She was a loving wife, devoted mother and kind-hearted grandmother who was always there for her family. Her infectious smile did not go unnoticed by young and old alike in the Lotbinière RCM.

On a daily basis, Solange humbly exemplified the values of sharing, caring and friendship. She was without question a courageous woman who brought happiness and good humour to all those around her.

Today, I am speaking on behalf of my community. I would like to say what a privilege it has been, for the Lotbinière RCM, to have had such an exceptional woman as Solange Parent in our midst. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Community Service Organization in Cap-Rouge
Statements by Members

October 24th, 2011 / 2:05 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the 35th anniversary of the Mouvement des services à la communauté du Cap-Rouge and congratulate this network of dedicated volunteers on the support it provides to low-income individuals and families, as well as to seniors, and on its cultural contribution.

This organization offers a place where people can meet, find a listening ear, talk and obtain referrals. It also offers many services such as a food bank, meals on wheels, activities for seniors, help for new mothers, family activities and a flea market.

I would like to draw the hon. members' attention to the fact that it is unacceptable that, in a society as rich as ours, despite the commendable efforts of organizations such as this one, needs are increasing and the contribution of such organizations is becoming increasingly essential.

Mouvement des services à la communauté du Cap-Rouge and its many volunteers have been helping to improve the lives of people in my riding since 1976, and I would like to thank them for their wonderful and exemplary work.