House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what a transparent answer to a question that we need answered.

Let us move on to another issue. The Canadian Wheat Board Act states that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food cannot introduce a bill without first consulting the board and, in particular, without farmers voting in a referendum about these changes. The Canadian Wheat Board asked for this referendum.

Yesterday, the Federal Court handed down its ruling: the Conservatives broke the law. The government is acting illegally. That is what the ruling states.

If they are so certain they are right, why do the Conservatives not consult the farmers? The law is the law.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government always has the authority to change the law.

It is always the authority of the government, acting through Parliament, to change law. That is of course precisely what we are doing in this case, which we have the clear legal right to do, and not only the clear legal right, but the clear mandate from western Canadian farmers.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Federal Court has ruled that our Minister of Agriculture is a scofflaw.

More serious than a gazebo in Muskoka or a search and rescue joyride or something, this minister's disregard for the law has serious consequences, because farmers need to know, before they put seed in the ground, how they will market their 20 million tonnes of grain this year. When that bill has been struck down by the courts, it will create pandemonium on the Prairies.

Will this minister agree now to put the brakes on Bill C-18, allow farmers to have their vote, and if they want to change the Canadian Wheat Board Act, do it with the mandate from the very producers who are subject to--

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we have exactly that. We have three of the four provinces involved in the Canadian Wheat Board jurisdiction and the vast majority of all the farm groups in the Prairies, other than the NFU, supporting us in moving forward.

In fact, Justice Campbell said:

The Applicants

--that is, the Canadian Wheat Board--

confirm that the validity of Bill C-18, and the validity and effects of any legislation which might become law as a result of Bill C-18 are not in issue in the present Applications.

We will continue. We will pass Bill C-18. We will give market freedom to western Canadian farmers.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, Justice Campbell also said that the minister will be held accountable for his disregard for the law. Now that the courts have ruled that Conservatives are in contempt of the rule of law, how can the Conservative-dominated Senate give approval and pass a bill that it knows will be struck down by the courts?

Conservatives are making a mockery of themselves even more than they usually do. I believe that they cannot pass the bill. Bill C-18 is toast in that respect. It will be overturned, and it is irresponsible and reckless to throw the entire rural prairie farm economy upside down and on its head when the 2012 crop year has to--

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Minister of Agriculture.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, fortunately, farmers in western Canada know how to market their crop in 2012. They will have the option of marketing through a voluntary Canadian wheat board at the same address, using the same people they have always done, or they will have the opportunity to market individually. They can go to their best bottom line for their industry and market accordingly.

The member opposite also said at one point:

When the government is intending to change legislation, I honestly don't see the grounds for going to court. The government has the right to change the legislation.... I don't see the case for taking it to court.

That is from the member for Winnipeg Centre.

We agree with that. Farmers agree with that, and we are moving on.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

To the Prime Minister through you, Mr. Speaker, could I ask how it is that the government's intention is to proceed with the Wheat Board law and to ask the Governor General to give royal assent to the law when the court in question has said that the minister's conduct is an affront to the rule of law? Would the Prime Minister not agree that the government should at the very least wait royal assent until such time as all appeals have been exhausted with respect to the ruling of Mr. Justice Campbell?

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, nothing in the ruling contradicts the government's fundamental right to change the law. It is a very fundamental constitutional principle that a previous government cannot bind the actions of a future government. This government has the power to act. This body, the House of Commons, has already approved that legislation. I look forward to the Senate approving it and I look forward to western Canadian farmers getting the marketing freedom they have so long demanded.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has the right to change the law, but the government does not have the right to break the law. That seems to be the critical question that the Prime Minister has lost.

Let me ask the Prime Minister a question with respect to Attawapiskat. Without consultation with the band council, the government itself decided to set up a third party management; does the government think it is reasonable and fair that the band itself now has to pay the $1,300-a-day fee being charged by that individual, which could cost up to $300,000? Does the government not realize what kind of a burden that places on the band council itself?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, not only is the government already spending tens of millions of dollars in this particular community, it is also spending additional moneys on particular emergency needs because of mismanagement. It is the absolute responsibility of the government to ensure that those needs are met and to ensure the management steps are taken to make sure those needs are met.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the report of the Auditor General, it is the government's own mismanagement that is at stake in this question. It is the government's own failure to provide appropriate housing and education, not only in Attawapiskat but right across the board.

How can the government continue to talk about the management problems in Attawapiskat and elsewhere when it is clear that the government is responsible for the mismanagement resulting in the human and moral condition on these reserves? That is entirely the responsibility of the Government of Canada.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of blaming someone, but of taking action and finding solutions.

Once again, the government's responsibility is clear. We are investing not just millions of dollars, but hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in emergency services to make sure people are taken care of. The people of that community and the wider taxpayers of this country have an absolute right to ensure that the money is being used and being used effectively, and that is what we are doing.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

December 8th, 2011 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's border deal raises many questions, and many Canadians are concerned.

How long will U.S. Homeland Security keep fingerprints of visitors to Canada? Will our Privacy Act be violated? What biometrics processes will be used, and why are such important rights being discussed in secret?

We do not know the answers, because the Prime Minister sidestepped Parliament to hold a photo op in Washington. Will the Conservatives bring this deal before Parliament for a full debate, and will they commit to protecting the privacy rights of Canadians?