House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Question No. 110
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

With regard to the government’s use of random selection in selecting applicants for jobs in the Public Service: (a) why is this process used over other possible selection processes; and (b) does the government have any plans to eliminate the random selection process in the future?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 111
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

With regard to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and promotional items: (a) broken down by fiscal year, since 2006, what was the total amount spent on CMHC branded promotional items; (b) broken down by fiscal year, since 2006, what types of CMHC branded promotional items were purchased by the CMHC; (c) broken down by fiscal year, since 2006, what was the total amount spent on each type of CMHC branded promotional item; (d) broken down by fiscal year, since 2006, what was the total volume purchased of each type of CMHC branded promotional item; and (e) what is the current inventory level of each type of CMHC promotional item?

(Return tabled)

*Question No. 21
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

With regard to the 2010 G8/G20 Summits in Ontario: (a) what was the chain of command relating to security; (b) what Canadian law enforcement and security forces were involved; (c) what international security experts or agencies were involved; and (d) did such agencies recommend kettling people at intersections?

(Return tabled)

*Question No. 21
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

*Question No. 21
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

*Question No. 21
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

*Question No. 21
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Malpeque, and I will recognize him now.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

September 19th, 2011 / 3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege on an issue which I believe constitutes a contempt of the House by the government in relation to the publicly stated efforts of the government to undermine the Canadian Wheat Board with the intent to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board. Prior to referencing precedents which support this submission, I would provide the following by way of background.

According to the federal government's MERX web site, operated and controlled by Public Works and Government Services Canada, the following notice of proposed procurement was placed on the site on August 11, 2011: Reference Number 225648, entitled “Assessment and Identification of Assets and Financial Contracts of the Canadian Wheat Board”. The contracting authority listed is a senior contracting officer with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. According to the notice of description contained on the site, the purpose of the contract is stated as follows:

The purpose of the audit is to provide reasonable assurance of the total financial impact of the repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the dissolution or winding up of the CWB after the final pooling periods (expected to be July 31, 2012). The final pool period may be conducted as usual under the Act.

The notice of description continues under the audit's objectives:

A. To provide assurance that the financial reporting is up to date and that all financial transactions have been accurately recorded in order to determine the potential financial impact of the repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the dissolution or winding up of the CWB.

B. To provide assurance that all agreements/contractual and licencing agreements and all marketing plans as well as the security provided for those said plans entered into by the Canadian Wheat Board are all documented and verified in order to determine any potential liabilities and to review all termination clauses. This will also include a review of all documentation with financial implications, such as outstanding legal actions.

The Speaker will note that on at least two occasions in the notice of description, the government has stated clearly and unequivocally that the reason for the audits is based upon “the repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the dissolution or winding up of the CWB”.

The contempt arises from the direct reference that the repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and dissolution or winding up the Canadian Wheat Board will follow the final pooling periods expected July 31, 2012.

In other words, there is the presumption that the repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, a procedure which can only be sanctioned by an act of Parliament, will in fact occur. The government has made no secret of the fact that legislation to repeal the Canadian Wheat Board Act will be introduced this fall. That is its right. What the government has not stated as clearly as does the notice of proposed procurement is that the pith and substance of the act will be the “dissolution or winding up of the CWB”.

It is my submission that the posting of this notice of proposed procurement with the wording provided is a contempt of this House on the basis that no legislation has been tabled, let alone passed, upon which such a specific intent can be supported.

I would add to this submission the following.

In the July 28, 2011 issue of the Western Producer, an article appeared entitled, “Open market will kill CWB”. In the article reference was made to the establishment by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food of a task force, which is “to look at issues that are likely to arise once legislation to end the single desk is passed.” The task force is chaired by Agriculture Canada deputy minister John Knubley and consists of representatives of the Canadian Grain Commission, Canadian International Grains Institute, Grain Growers of Canada, Pulse Canada, and the Canola Council of Canada.

On September 6, 2011, my office received from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada the terms of reference of that task force. As the Speaker will note, the opening statement of the terms of reference reads as follows:

The group will take as given that:

-- all grains will be removed from the monopoly by August 2012.

I would further note that the reference of the task force provides for the expenditure of public funds of which has yet to be revealed to this House. I quote:

We are targeting up to four meetings in Winnipeg between mid-July and early September, with video/tele conferencing as required. The Department will reimburse invited participants for approved travel expenses.

It is my understanding that the minister was to receive a report from that task force on September 15, 2011.

There is no ambiguity to this statement. Given the specifics contained in the notice of proposed procurement referenced above, the terms of reference of the task force complement the procurement notice and serve to reinforce the contempt I am outlining, namely, that neither the notice of procurement nor the terms of the task force cited are based upon any legitimate action of the House, which is the only body that can authorize a repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the dissolution or winding up of the CWB.

The government presumes that the act has been repealed, which in fact it has not. It has not been presented; it has not been debated; it has not been amended or in any way pronounced upon by the House or the other body down the corridor.

By way of precedence, I refer the Speaker to the decision of Speaker Fraser on October 10, 1989, at pages 4457 to 4461 of Debates, as contained in Selected Decisions of Speaker John A. Fraser, pages 3 to 11. The context of the decision was the following:

In August 1989, during the summer recess, the Government placed an advertisement in newspapers across the country stating that the proposed new Goods and Services Tax (GST) would come into effect on January 1, 1991. When the session resumed on September 25, 1989, the...Leader of the Opposition raised a question of privilege relating to the said advertisement. He was of the opinion that by placing newspaper advertisements announcing an effective date for the GST, the Government denied the role of Parliament in the imposition of taxes and thereby prejudiced proceedings of the House and its committees.

Speaker Fraser indicated it was not his intent, and rightly so, to rule upon the content of any legislation the government proposed or brought forward to the House, and it is not the intent of this submission either. However, Speaker Fraser did begin by expounding upon the arguments presented by the Liberal leader at the time, and I quote from pages 4 and 5 of Selected Decisions of Speaker John A. Fraser:

...first, that the advertisement prejudices the future proceedings of the House and of the Finance Committee...; and second, that the advertisement is a contempt of Parliament because it leads readers to infer that the House has no role in the passage of the tax, thus misleading the Canadian public concerning the procedures employed by Parliament in adopting such legislation.

As to the first point, Speaker Fraser did acknowledge that the House did have before it a technical paper on the subject which was under discussion. This is a fact not in evidence on the matter that I now raise before the House.

The Conservative government of the day, in its defence, presented the following in response. Again, I quote from page 5 of Selected Decisions of Speaker John A. Fraser:

[The Minister of Justice] explained that in the budget which was approved by the House, the government had indicated that the Goods and Services Tax would be implemented on January 1, 1991. Finally, since the Committee is presently studying the issue, he suggested that no case can be made for the claim that the Committee's work is being impeded.

Again, Mr. Speaker, neither of the facts referenced by the then minister of justice are in evidence with respect to the matter I now place before you regarding the Canadian Wheat Board. There is no reference to the Canadian Wheat Board in any context in the budget the government tabled on June 6, 2011, nor has a technical paper nor a cost benefit analysis of any kind been presented to the House.

Finally, neither is the agriculture committee nor any other committee of the House examining in any respect the issue of the Canadian Wheat Board.

However, the government has stated in its notice of proposed procurement a specific date as to when the functioning of the Canadian Wheat Board's pooling system, as currently provided for by an act of Parliament, will cease, that being July 31, 2012.

Speaker Fraser went to considerable length to provide clarification as to what constitutes a contempt. In this regard he cited Speaker Sauvé of October 29, 1980 at page 4214 of Hansard. Rather than take time to quote at length those remarks, I would refer to the Selected Decisions of Speaker John A. Fraser on pages 6 and 7. Speaker Fraser was quite clear and this point is key to the argument I present today. I must quote from page 10 of Selected Decisions of Speaker John A. Fraser:

However, I want the House to understand very clearly that if your Speaker ever has to consider a situation like this again, the Chair will not be as generous. This is a case which, in my opinion, should never occur. I expect the Department of Finance and other departments to study this ruling carefully and remind everyone within the Public Service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, nor a so-called administrative democracy.

Speaker Fraser concluded by stating:

This advertisement may not be a contempt of the House in the narrow confines of procedural definition, but it is, in my opinion, ill-conceived and does a great disservice to the great traditions of this place.... [T]his ad is objectionable and should never be repeated.

He went on to say:

[I]f ever this issue has to be debated and considered by this House again these comments will serve to guide the House in its deliberations.

I want to repeat that, Mr. Speaker, because it is important to your decision:

[I]f ever this issue has to be debated and considered by this House again these comments will serve to guide the House in its deliberations.

I would add to the preceding the following from a decision by Speaker Parent, found at pages 8987 to 8988 of Debates March 13, 1997 and referenced in Selected Decisions of Speaker Parent on pages 7 and 8 wherein Speaker Parent, in reference to a matter related to government advertising in the public domain prior to final passage of legislation stated:

[W]here the government issues communications to the public containing allusions to measures before the House, it would be advisable to choose words and terms that leave no doubt as to the disposition of these measures.

Those whose duty it is to approve the wording of communications to the public for a Minister must surely be aware that the terms used in parliamentary language have a very specific meaning. Trying to avoid them or to use them for advertising purposes shows a lack of consideration for the institution of Parliament and the role of the Members in the legislative process.

What should be taken note of is the fact that the Conservative government of the day, in respecting the admonition of the Speaker, withdrew from circulation brochures referencing the implementation of the goods and services tax at that time.

In responding to a question of privilege concerning the distribution of brochures related to the implementation of the GST, on December 18, 1989, at page 12 of the Selected Decisions of Speaker John A. Fraser, he stated:

...subsequent to the Chair's ruling on the advertisements for the GST, steps had been taken to have all offending materials returned to the Department.

I refer as well to a ruling by Speaker Milliken on the issue of privilege again related to government advertising found at pages 6276 and 6278 of Debates, May 29, 2008. In his decision, Speaker Milliken stated that the advertising in question at the time contained caveats which demonstrated that there was no “misrepresentation of the proceedings of the House or of any presumption of the outcome of its deliberations”.

He also stated:

It is with these precedents in mind that I reviewed the advertisements in question. They contain phrases such as “the Government of Canada is proposing measures”, “These important measures, once in effect,” and “These measures are currently before Parliament”. In my view, the advertisements clearly acknowledge that these measures are not yet in place.

Even a cursory examination of the text of the advertisement placed on the government MERX website on August 11 of this year fails to meet the test of clarity referred to by Speaker Milliken in his decision of May 29, 2008 referenced above.

I would also point to a statement of the government House leader on May 15, 2008, on page 5922 of Debates, during a debate on a question of privilege related to government advertisements wherein he stated:

...that advertising undertaken by the government should not presume or suggest that a decision had been made already when it had not been taken by the House of Commons or by Parliament.

Obviously, the government's actions with the MERX ad and the actions of spokesmen in western Canada are clearly operating on the assumption that the Canadian Wheat Board Act is gone as of next year. Legislation has not even been introduced in the House.

At page 85 of the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice it states:

By far, most of the cases of privilege raised in the House relate to matters of contempt challenging the perceived authority and dignity of Parliament and its Members.

In that regard, I would remind the House of the decision of Speaker Milliken on March 19, 2001, at pages 1839 to 1840 of Debates. With respect to a matter of the failure of the government to provide a legislative briefing to members, the Speaker stated:

To deny to members information concerning business that is about to come before the House, while at the same time providing such information to media--

Or in the case before the House today, the public and potential contractors:

...that will likely be questioning members about that business, is a situation that the Chair cannot condone.

In respect to the matter I have presented today, it is my submission that the government has failed to heed the advice and admonishments of the government House leader himself or of previous Speakers on this matter.

Just before I close, to add a little context I would also add this one final point with respect to the actions of the government in this matter.

Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act is very germane to the argument presented today, which in part states:

The Minister shall not cause to be introduced in Parliament a bill that would exclude any kind, type, class or grade of wheat or barley, or wheat or barley produced in any area in Canada, from the provisions of Part IV, either in whole or in part, or generally, or for any period, or that would extend the application of Part III or Part IV or both Parts III and IV to any other grain, unless

a. the Minister has consulted with the board about the exclusion or extension; and

b. the producers of the grain have voted in favour of the exclusion or extension, the voting process having been determined by the Minister.

It is my submission that the announcement that the government is seeking audit advice on the process of “dissolution or winding up of the CWB”, which will be under way by July 31, 2012, constitutes a breach of the act as it currently stands.

As far as I am aware, the government has not consulted with the board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board on any bill presented to Parliament and the minister has not called for any plebiscite of producers in respect to that legislation. In fact, the Canadian Wheat Board held a plebiscite in which 62% said they do not want the minister to touch the bill.

To summarize, the case of contempt I present here is different from that raised on October 8, 1989, in the following aspects.

First, the notice to propose procurement is clear in that it is proposing to let a contract for audits of the Canadian Wheat Board, based upon the stated fact of “dissolution or winding up of the CWB after the final pooling periods (expected to be July 31, 2012)”.

Second, unlike the 1989 case referred to, the government has not even attempted to provide this House or any committee of this House with any kind of technical paper or any indication that it has done due diligence and completed its own economic impact assessment on any proposed changes to the Canadian Wheat Board, let alone “dissolution or winding up”.

Given the admonition of Speaker Fraser, it is my submission that the case he warned against reappearing has now arisen and one with even less legitimacy than that of the one he decided upon in October 1989. As a consequence, it is my submission that the text of the notice of proposed procurement and the terms of reference of the task force established by the Minister of Agriculture would leave the reader to conclude that the Canadian Wheat Board will be repealed, even though no such legislation in any form has been tabled in this House, and that in less than a year the Canadian Wheat Board will be in the process of dissolution and winding up, two facts which will negatively impact upon the board, those farmers operating under it and those doing business with that board.

My privilege, as well as that of all members of the House, has been affected by the fact that the public has been placed in a position to conclude that Parliament has acted on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board on the basis of a notice of procurement when in fact it has not.

Therefore, I would seek from the Speaker a finding of contempt and I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point. I will try to be far more concise than my colleague from Malpeque.

Let me state at the outset that there is clearly no case of privilege here. There is no contempt that is being sought by the member for Malpeque. The hon. member went to great lengths to try to compare a situation that occurred with public advertising in 1989 regarding the GST with the situation we have before us now where there was a notice of procurement not made in general terms to the general public but specifically to a company called MERX.

Mr. Speaker, that is critical in your determinations, because we have always stated our intentions to make fundamental organizational changes to the Canadian Wheat Board. We have campaigned for four successive elections on that. The last election concluded in May of this year was no different.

Therefore, there is no question that the general public, producers across western Canada, and anyone else for that matter knows the intentions of our government. We have not introduced legislation yet giving any details of that. When and if that legislation is introduced, we have not stated in any unequivocal or definitive way that there would be a date for the conclusion of that legislation.

The member for Malpeque is clearly trying to draw a very long bow by taking a request for procurement with an end date to the company that may want to submit a tender and stating that clearly since there was a date contained in the ad of request for procurement that must be the date that the government feels this legislation will have been concluded. That is a very long bow to draw and is simply incorrect. There is no definitive statement that the Government of Canada has put out any public advertisements stating that by a certain date in the future the Canadian Wheat Board legislation will have passed. We have not even introduced the legislation so there can be no contempt.

The member for Malpeque is on his tirade once more trying to suggest that Canadian producers in western Canada will be somehow aggrieved by changes to the Canadian Wheat Board. We take a different view. We have stated that many times quite publicly.

In this particular question of privilege that the member raises, there is no question of contempt whatsoever because nowhere has there been any public advertising presented by the Government of Canada giving an end date to legislation that has not even been introduced. The advertisement the member is referring to is merely a request for procurement which provides a date for those companies that are interested to submit their tenders to the government . That is all. It does not state that the government intends to have legislation passed by any specific date. In fact, there has been no indication in a public venue or any public advertisement whatsoever that the government plans to even introduce legislation and at what date.

I know the member opposes the government's plan to give marketing freedom to Canadian western producers, but we will do so. We will introduce legislation that will be debated in the House. All members of this place as well as members of the agriculture committee will have a chance to examine and to speak to the legislation when and if it is introduced. However, it has not been introduced and there is no contempt.

In conclusion, I would suggest to my friend from Malpeque that while he has differing views from the government on the rights of Canadian farmers to market their grain as they see fit there is no contempt in this case.

However, as I am sure my friend from Malpeque wishes to engage in further debate on this, I ask that we be allowed to reserve the right to comment further if needed in the near future.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like the opportunity to intervene first on the point of privilege raised by my colleague from Malpeque and also provide some comments on the intervention by the parliamentary secretary.

I would start by saying that the parliamentary secretary stood and very categorically announced that there is no breach of parliamentary privilege or contempt here. I only raise this point to put to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is not for him to make that determination, but for you as the Speaker of the House to determine whether my colleague from Malpeque has a legitimate point of privilege and whether a finding of contempt may in fact stem from it.

Addressing my colleague's point, we took note as well that the request for proposals on the MERX website that took place in August very clearly stated a wish for help in evaluating and auditing the wrap-up costs associated with terminating the Canadian Wheat Board's single desk monopoly by July 31, 2012. In other words, the Canadian Wheat Board as we know it would cease to exist on August 1, 2012. I agree with him and ask you, Mr. Speaker, given that Speakers are bound by jurisprudence and precedent, to take note of the precedents that he cited, not from one Speaker but three separate Speakers, that such an announcement can presuppose, undermine and prejudice the parliamentary procedure that necessarily determines legislation and would be able to result in the final abolishing of the Canadian Wheat Board.

I would point out that it is not only the collective privilege of members of Parliament that is being impacted by this presupposition, this announcement for all the world to see, that the Wheat Board is finished, over and dead. It is not only those of us in the chamber who are impacted, but the rural Prairie economy is also affected by such an announcement. If this announcement gazetted on the MERX website was so benign and innocuous, as the parliamentary secretary would have us believe, why do we see the spike in the share prices of the very grain companies that will benefit by assuming the very lucrative market share left behind by the $6 billion a year corporation that the government is so hell-bent and determined to dismantle? If this announcement was so innocuous, why are the share prices going up in these companies in anticipation of what the government has very publicly announced?

We should take note that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the minister who is responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and who should by all rights be the Wheat Board's greatest champion, not its worst enemy and saboteur, has visited the offices of the Canadian Wheat Board only one time, and for 20 minutes, although some argue it was 22 minutes. He was being timed.

We just learned this from the CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board during our meetings in Quebec City not three days ago. It was announced to us that the one and only time the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food responsible for the Wheat Board has ever visited the Canadian Wheat Board was to announce to it this summer that on July 31 it will cease to exist and that on August 1, 2012, there will be no more single desk monopoly for marketing grain through the Canadian Wheat Board.

That is a public declaration. That is an announcement. That is not even giving us the right to entertain first reading, second reading, committee stage, third reading and report stage of a piece of legislation before the government has decreed by its advertising in MERX and by its public declaration to the directors of the Canadian Wheat Board that they are finished. That does undermine, sabotage and strip away my privilege as a parliamentarian to effect change to that legislation.

It may be that the government will not get its legislation through. It may well be that it becomes amended or modified or ameliorated, or that some of the worst aspects of it do not succeed, even though it has a majority.

We know that for the government to meet that July 31 deadline, that legislation has to clear the Senate by December 15. The members on this side will not allow that to happen. We will use every parliamentary procedure possible to ensure that the government does not get legislation passed, if we cannot amend it to modify it.

That means the government will be undermining the Prairie economy, destabilizing the key industry in our agricultural sector, throwing confusion and chaos into the marketing of grain and grain exports. Grain to Manitoba is what oil is to the province of Alberta. The government cannot be so cavalier and reckless.

The government intends to dismantle the largest and most successful grain marketing company in the world by July 31, 2012, and it does not even know what it will cost. It is only starting to ask now for some help in auditing the impact. Never mind the fact that the government has not done a cost benefit analysis. It has not even done an initial adjudication as to what this might cost.

The figures from the Canadian Wheat Board directors are loosely $500 million in wrap-up costs. A $6 billion a year corporation cannot be wrapped up without some closing costs, not when the government has just contracted to buy new ships for the Great Lakes, not when it has producer cars, not when it has standing contracts that it will have to break.

I would add my voice to ask you, Mr. Speaker, to take note of the rulings as set out by my colleague, the hon. member for Malpeque, and to take into consideration that the unilateral and arbitrary declaration by the government that the Wheat Board is over is deleterious to my privilege as a member of Parliament, deleterious to the Prairie economy and deleterious to the Prairie farm producers who count on the Wheat Board to provide the best return for their grain sales.

Speakers are guided by precedent and jurisprudence and there is an abundance of jurisprudence that supports the point that my colleague raises, that we are being denied that most fundamental right and privilege of all members of Parliament, and that is to determine the outcome of legislation and not have it presupposed by a government that has very little respect for Parliament.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief and stick to the principle of process, about which I believe all of us need to be concerned.

My colleague made reference to citations through Speaker Fraser and talked about how important it was that we respect the institution that we belong to and that we participate fully. We have to be very careful of the dangerous slope that we are going into.

When governments or departments make a mistake, there is a great deal of honour in coming forward and saying that they made a mistake and that they will ensure it is not going to happen again.

I would love to see a government minister, the acting House leader, whomever from the government benches, recognize that Speaker Fraser in his comments, which have been referenced in addressing this motion, are in fact applicable for today's motion.

It is indeed critically important that when a minister's office or the government takes an action in anticipation that a bill is ultimately going to be coming through the House of Commons and passed, that is in fact wrong. The process of the House of Commons has to be allowed to do the things that it needs to do in order to ensure that we operate from within the law.

I would ultimately argue that government should not be presuming how the House of Commons will vote on any given issue.

I know from personal experience back in 1986 everyone believed that the Manitoba budget would pass because it had a majority government. No government advertising was entered into prior to the budget that was supposed to pass. The government advertising for the budget always occurs post-passage or post-introduction of the budget itself. In 1986 that budget did not pass even though there was a majority government.

My suggestion is to put the emphasis on the process. We need to be looking at that. I believe my colleague highlighted Speaker Fraser in his remarks to ensure the integrity of the House of Commons is maintained. I would suggest that, at the very least, the right thing would be for the minister responsible to stand in his place, recognize that a mistake has been made, state that he will go out of his way to ensure that it does not occur again and that the problem currently in place is fixed.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I know you will be making your decision available to all of us in the very near future. I would reiterate just one or two points that I made in my first intervention.

Both members from the third party and the member from the official opposition seemed to suggest that the RFP that was put on the MERX web site categorically gave a deadline for alterations to the Canadian Wheat Board, in other words for legislation to be concluded. That is not the case. It was merely a request for MERX to supply a proposal to our government and gave a deadline for when we wish that proposal to be in our hands. It did not refer to the legislation itself. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the legislation has not yet been introduced. There will be ample opportunities for debate on that piece of legislation when and if it is introduced in this House.

However, our intentions have always been clear, so to suggest, as my hon. colleague from the official opposition mentioned, that we are somehow undermining the ability of parliamentarians or destroying or undermining the economy of Canadian western grain producers, is absolutely false. Canadian western producers have known for years the intentions of our government and they have overwhelmingly voted in rural ridings across western Canada for a Conservative majority government, which they now have.

To my colleague from Winnipeg Centre who says that any changes to the Canadian Wheat Board as advocated by our government may destroy the agricultural economy, I would point out two illustrations. One is of a producer who contacted me in my riding and said two years ago that his farming operation lost $250,000 because he could not market his barley to the highest bidder. He was forced to sell his barley through the Canadian Wheat Board and it cost his farming operation $250,000. I would like the member for Malpeque or any other member to stand in this place and please respond to that producer as to why the Canadian Wheat Board was a good deal for him.

In response to questions about the agricultural economy, the Minister of Agriculture pointed out today quite correctly that one of the benefits of having a voluntary wheat board is the positive impact it would have on value-added industries actually starting up their businesses in Canada. Right now because of the Wheat Board, pasta plants, value-added plants and industries like that are not allowed in Canada. They have to find their place of business to be set up otherwise. There are four or five of those examples south of the border. They do not fundamentally understand what the Wheat Board means in terms of restrictions to agricultural industry. That is fine. We can have that debate. We hope to be able to educate them when legislation is introduced, if it is introduced.

In conclusion, to suggest that because of a request for proposal to an industry on a web site, that it be the end date of the legislation we have yet to introduce is sheer folly. It absolutely makes no sense. In my view, there is no basis for privilege. There is certainly no basis for contempt.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you give a response to this very important question at your earliest opportunity.