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Evidence of meeting #3 for Bill C-18 (41st Parliament, 1st Session) in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was farmers.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Allen Oberg  Chair, Canadian Wheat Board
Ian McCreary  Former Director and Farmer, Canadian Wheat Board
Kenneth A. Rosaasen  Professor, University of Saskatchewan
Stewart Wells  Director, District 3, Canadian Wheat Board
Henry Vos  Former Director, Canadian Wheat Board
Ron Bonnett  President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Jeff Nielsen  Former Director, Canadian Wheat Board
John Knubley  Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Greg Meredith  Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I would like say this is about the second or third time I feel that the witnesses, particularly Mr. Vos and Mr. Nielsen, have intimated they're being intimidated and therefore are not being fulsome in their disclosure to Parliament on the actions that may have happened. As you correctly ruled, Mr. Chair, they are protected under parliamentary privilege.

This is just the history of the Liberal Party of Canada, starting when we first got elected in 2006 as the government. When we first tried moving the Federal Accountability Act, and since we've been reviewing the cloak of darkness around the Canadian Wheat Board—

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

—the member for [Inaudible--Editor] constantly stood up and—

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

It's absolutely irrelevant what's he saying right now.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

—kept Canadians and the Western Canadians from having the ability to see what was going on.

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Chair, I'm inviting you to interject.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

I'll hear you, Mr. Valeriote.

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

That is absolutely inappropriate. The only questions I have asked have been on the technical value and on the admissibility of evidence. I have asked no questions intended to intimidate either Mr. Vos or Mr. Nielsen.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

I appreciate the interventions from both of you. I think these are points of debate, not points of order.

I encourage you to keep decorum at the committee. I encourage all parties at the table to keep the decorum of the committee respectable. Every member of the committee has now had an opportunity to review this document.

Mr. Dreeshen, your time is resuming now.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Thank you.

I was going to talk about the well-being of the corporation, in particular, the people who care about the corporation and what farmers can do.

I guess with the last 30 seconds, I'd like to have you comment then on what is in that second paragraph, where your public comments are discussed.

8:05 p.m.

Former Director, Canadian Wheat Board

Henry Vos

The letter is a reply I got from the chairman of the board on his receipt of my resignation letter. The second paragraph, I guess, in a way summarizes the attitude that if it's not in agreement with the organization, then you're going to find yourself in hot water.

That kind of influence over a board of directors, in my view—and I've said this before—made it dysfunctional.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Mr. Dreeshen, your time has expired.

Mr. Rousseau, you have five minutes.

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Chair, I have a point of order again.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Mr. Valeriote on a point of order.

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

This is a point of order, and I waited until Mr. Vos had finished his statement so that Mr. Storseth would not regard my intervention as an act of intimidation.

I'd like to point out to the public who are listening that Mr. Vos has not accurately relayed what is in that second paragraph. What is in that second paragraph is a reminder of his fiduciary duty to the corporation, and nothing more.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Mr. Valeriote, this is a point of debate.

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

It is a point of order, Mr. Chair.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

You're debating the issues and the merits of the discussion going on around the table. I appreciate your intervention.

This document has been circulated to the committee and is for the committee to discuss and debate at this point in time. This time does not belong to you right now, but to Mr. Rousseau for five minutes.

Please go ahead, sir.

November 2nd, 2011 / 8:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

My question is for Mr. Bonnett.

You touched on several issues that are of concern to your members, in particular issues involving transport, access to facilities, and financial stress, issues which the board now deals with; you also mentioned other responsibilities that are going to fall onto the backs of farmers now. I think I am not wrong in saying that farmers everywhere in the country do not want and do not need additional responsibilities.

Do you think that the coming into force of Bill C-18 will complicate our farmers' lives?

8:10 p.m.

President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture

Ron Bonnett

I think one of the things that isn't completely clear is what the implementation plan is.

I think that's for discussion in the legislation. There has been discussion about changing the role of the board. I think that goes back to the key point I was making about engaging people in the discussion in order to have a really good understanding of what the implementation of this would be as it moves forward.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

My question is again for Mr. Bonnett.

Let's take Australia as an example; they had a longer transition period. And yet there were disastrous results there. How can we hope for a better result with a shorter transition period, as provided for in Bill C-18?

8:10 p.m.

President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture

Ron Bonnett

Again, I'll go back to the statement I made earlier. I am not going to try to decide for wheat producers how they should market their grain, but I think what I will re-emphasize is that a process has to be in place so that there's a really transparent understanding of what's taking place going forward.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

My next question is addressed to Mr. Vos.

Do you not think that Bill C-18 could have collateral effects on agricultural sectors where supply management is important, and where the stability and viability of producers is dependent on that system?

8:10 p.m.

Former Director, Canadian Wheat Board

Henry Vos

I think the farmers of western Canada are quite capable of marketing their wheat and barley individually, and their decisions related to how they do that would not be different from those they take with the other crops they currently market—canola and pulse crops.

I can't comment on supply management. I'm not in that industry. I have no knowledge to add to the table on that.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

I have no further questions.

May I share my time with Mr. Allen?