House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.


Canada Grain ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec


Alfonso Gagliano Liberalfor Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

moved that Bill C-51, an act to amend the Canada Grain Act and respecting certain regulations made pursuant to that act, be read the third time and passed.

Canada Grain ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-51 this morning, an act to amend the Canada Grain Act.

Bill C-51 represents a consensus among Canada's western grain producers and the grain industry. This bill contains the changes to the Canada Grain Act these communities have told us they need.

There are four key elements to Bill C-51. The first is to renew Canada's commitment to quality and therefore reinforce the uniqueness of the Canadian quality control system. The second is to eliminate the obligation for government to set maximum elevator tariffs. The third is to improve the financial protection available to grain producers. The fourth is to reduce the exposure of taxpayers in the event that licensees of the Canadian Grain Commission fail financially.

I will now give some detail on these four particular aspects beginning with commitment to quality. Bill C-51 renews this commitment to quality. When we talk about quality, what we mean are the measurable characteristics that end users of these products tell us they need. Bill C-51 restates the need to meet the requirements of end users through visual and other quality determination methods. Until instrumental means are developed to rapidly and efficiently determine quality, visual methods must still be relied upon.

Grain quality, which is the primary reason for Canada's success in international markets, is more important than ever given the post-GATT climate in which freer trade rules reduce the role of export subsidies. Our competitors are going to have to become more like us. For this reason it is important that Canada preserve its tradition and widely acknowledged leadership in this area.

On the issue of maximum elevator tariffs, Bill C-51 provides that the Canadian Grain Commission will no longer be required to set maximum elevator tariffs. Tariffs are the charges grain elevator operators levy for their elevation, storage and cleaning services.

In the absence of maximum tariffs, elevator operators will be able to decide what to charge for their services. Operators will also no longer be required to provide the commission with 14 days notice when changes to tariffs are to be made. These measures will provide companies with more opportunities to be flexible and competitive.

Removing the obligation of the commission to set maximum tariffs is being done at the request of the industry. Elimination of the maximums should encourage more capital investment by elevator companies and result in a more flexible and competitive elevator industry.

Producer reactions to this provision have been mixed. Some do believe there is a risk that companies will charge excessive tariffs unless they are regulated but we are convinced that Bill C-51 addresses these concerns. There are safeguards within the bill and within the structure of the industry.

For example, the majority of primary and terminal elevators are owned or controlled by producers through the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the Alberta Wheat Pool, the United Grain Growers, and the Manitoba Pool Elevators. These operators are responsible to their producers, so it is expected they will consider the interests of producers when setting these tariffs.

Some may argue that the corporate interests of producer organizations will override the producers' interests. It would be presumptuous for government to tell producers they are incapable of directing their own organizations. I am very much convinced that producers know what they are doing and they are in the best position to determine whose interests their organizations will serve.

In the unlikely event that producer owned elevators are not able to protect their producers Bill C-51 does include some legislative remedies. Specifically for a two-year transition period the Canadian Grain Commission will have the power to immediately establish maximum tariffs by order if the investigation of a complaint from an elevator user finds that a particular tariff is unjustified. The two-year period should be

sufficient for the industry and producers to adapt to a deregulated tariff environment.

The commission will continue to have the power to set maximum tariffs by regulation as a last resort if elevator operators set tariffs that are excessive. Furthermore, the commission will continue to investigate complaints and to mediate disputes.

However, if the past behaviour of Canada's elevator companies offers any indication of their future actions they will behave responsibly. The recent experience where the commission issued an order which removed elevation tariff ceilings for terminal elevators for the current crop year has shown this. Limits on these maximums were removed to allow operators to recover overtime costs, enabling the industry to deal with backlogged orders. The resulting tariff increases were modest and responsibly applied.

It is significant that the tariffs companies are charging for their other services are below the ceiling established by the Canadian Grain Commission.

The next point has to do with the licensing and security provisions contained in the bill. The Canadian Grain Commission plays an important role in helping maintain the integrity of grain transactions and thereby protecting the interests of grain producers.

The Canadian Grain Commission licenses elevators and grain dealers and holds security posted by licensees. This security which is mandatory for all licensees is intended to help protect farmers against losses in case a licensee defaults on payments to farmers.

In the past the industry viewed this security as insurance to cover licensee liabilities only up to the amount of security posted.

However, in 1990 the Federal Court found the CGC liable in the case of the bankruptcies of two former licensees. In both cases the security held by the Canadian Grain Commission was insufficient to cover the licensees' obligations to farmers and the government had to pay the shortfall in security which was approximately $3.8 million.

The payments that resulted from these court decisions came out of general revenue, more specifically out of taxpayers' pockets. We feel it is important to change the act to protect taxpayers from further payments by clarifying the government's responsibility in any further bankruptcies. This view is shared throughout the grain industry with which the licensing and security provisions of Bill C-51 were thoroughly discussed.

The new licensing and security provisions are as follows. There is currently a one-year limit on security. The act will allow the time limit to be prescribed by regulation and it is the government's intention to fix this period at 90 days. The change is based on one of the major recommendations flowing from consultations. That recommendation was that farmers should take more responsibility for their transactions. This includes promptly pricing grain on delivery and cashing payment documents.

The vast majority of those consulted agreed that security is not intended to help farmers speculate on rising grain prices. By limiting their time to claim the act will place the responsibility on farmers for promptly obtaining payment and cashing documents.

Another provision is that farmers will have 30 days to notify the CGC of a licensee's failure or refusal to pay. If the CGC is notified promptly of a default, it can investigate a licensee that is potentially in financial difficulty and may be able to prevent the licensee from incurring further liabilities.

The onus will be on farmers to determine whether they are dealing with licensees. This is because the CGC only holds security posted by licensees. If farmers want to be eligible for security they will have to ensure they are dealing with a licensed organization. They can do this by contacting the CGC or by monitoring regular CGC advertisements in the farm press.

Farmers will have to hold prescribed documents to be eligible for security. Security posted by licensees applies only to cash purchase tickets, elevator receipts and grain receipts. To be eligible to claim against security farmers must obtain one of these prescribed documents. Only licensees will be entitled to use them. This will prevent non-licensees from misleading producers about their licensing status.

Security available to producers will be limited to the amount held by the commission. If the security held is less than total liabilities, the monies will then be shared on a pro rata basis. Government will not be liable if the security held is not adequate. The commission will monitor companies to make certain their security is adequate to cover their liabilities.

Finally, Bill C-51 will enable the commission to set by regulation the percentage of losses that would be covered by security. The government intends this will remain at 100 per cent of any losses. These are very important provisions that will resolve some of these long outstanding issues.

There is another point here that should be discussed that has to do with special crops. When Bill C-51 was reviewed by the agriculture committee some members and witnesses expressed the view that Bill C-51 should be held back until issues of specific concern to some members of the special crops industry could be addressed in the legislation.

The answer to the problem does not lie in holding up this bill. Rather, the answer is to proceed with developing legislation that is geared to special crops. What does special crops mean? This refers to products such as canary seed, sunflower seed, mustard seed, lentils, buckwheat, beans, peas, corn, safflower seed, soy beans, triticale, fava bean.

At one time special crops played a relatively small economic role when compared with other Canadian grains such as wheat, barley, oats, canola and so on. However, the industry has grown significantly, particularly in western Canada where special crops have grown by about 30 per cent in the last 10 years.

Special crops are regulated under the Canada Grain Act. This act was designed to regulate an industry largely devoted to the bulk handling of cereal grains. Many industry participants have observed that because special crops differ significantly in terms of handling and marketing the act does not meet all the needs of the special crops industry.

This general assessment has some merit. Over the past several years the Canadian Grain Commission has consulted widely on this issue, mostly through the special crops initiative which was conducted by a committee of special crops producers based in the three prairie provinces. These reviews have confirmed that the special crops industry operates differently than the sector of the industry that handles the major grains and that legislative changes are needed to address these special needs.

These reviews have also consistently underlined the need expressed by producers to have access to companies which are licensed and to financial security should those companies default on their payments to the producers.

The commission has examined numerous suggestions and a combination of suggestions that have come forward from participants in the special crops industry. Some suggestions had to be rejected because they were administratively complicated and unduly expensive.

More consultation is planned because the commission wishes to determine which regulatory option is most acceptable to special crops producers and the industry.

The commission recently circulated a discussion paper which outlines options and it will be holding discussions with the special crops industry in western Canada over the next two to three months. From these discussions will emerge recommendations for legislation in 1995.

The conclusion to be drawn from all of this is as follows. First, a special crops industry has special needs which must be addressed. These needs are being addressed in a thoughtful and timely fashion. Second, because the needs of the special crops industry will be the subject of legislative proposals, the minister of agriculture intends to bring it to the House in 1995. We should not delay the passage of Bill C-51. Delays will aggravate problems C-51 is designed to overcome.

In conclusion, we should all thank the many people who have been involved in one way or another in the development of Bill C-51. They include many members of the multitude of Canada's producer and industry organizations, staff of the Canadian Grain Commission, Agriculture Canada and many members of the House, all of whom have contributed to make this bill a success in addressing these issues.

Canada Grain ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-51 under consideration today is an administrative bill. It is designed to make the operation and administration of the Canadian Grain Commission and the grain industry more efficient.

Canada's reputation for grains of constant and reliable quality is commonly recognized as Canada's winning card on international grain markets. The Canada Grain Act will be amended a number of ways by the bill before us, to strengthen the role played by quality in the Canadian grain industry.

Under the provisions brought forward today, the Canadian Grain Commission, which is responsible for administering the Canada Grain Act, will no longer have a duty to set maximum elevator charges. We know that these charges are fees levied by elevator operators for the handling, cleaning, storage and drying of grain.

This deregulation of maximum charges will be introduced in stages. There will be a two-year transition period during which the commission will retain the power to set rate ceilings by regulation. During and after this transition period, the Canadian Grain Commission will act as an ombudsman, investigate complaints and try to settle them. Following the transition period, the Canadian Grain Commission will retain the power to set maximum charges by regulation, as required.

This enactment will give elevator operators more flexibility in setting their prices, enabling them to compete. It will also encourage much needed capital investment.

Bill C-51 will lift the requirement for grain to be hauled from province to another exclusively by common carrier. This will benefit the producers, in our view, by giving them transportation options that could help them cut their marketing costs.

The Canada Grain Act, 1912, established the Canadian Grain Commission mainly to look after the interests of grain producers. Their protection remains the main focus of the act and several of the proposed changes are designed to ensure this protection. Among the amendments is one giving the Canadian Grain Commission the power to take measures against companies making illegal use of the grade names established under the Canada Grain Act.

The bill also requires licensed grain dealers to use the official grade names established under the Canada Grain Act in all their dealings with producers.

There is also a provision allowing the Canadian Grain Commission to suspend primary elevator operation licenses when surpluses exceed the allowed limits. A surplus is the difference between the quantity of grain stored in the elevator and the amount that should be there according to shipment records and receipts.

The bill also contains provisions giving the Canadian Grain Commission the authority to require operators to fully insure the grain stored in their elevators. Finally, it requires eventual licensees to provide specified financial data proving their solvency.

Under the bill, the Canadian Grain Commission would license elevator operators and grain dealers and hold security posted by licensees, to help protect farmers in cases where a licensee defaults in its payment to a grain producer.

After the bankruptcies of two licensees who had posted insufficient security, the courts ruled that the shortfall should come out of general revenue or, in other words, out of taxpayers' pockets. The bill before us proposes several amendments intended to clarify the respective responsibilities of the Canadian Grain Commission and of grain producers and to protect taxpayers against future disbursements.

These amendments include a provision that protects producers by regulation during a fixed period following grain delivery to a licensee. Should producers not try to obtain payment during this period, they will not be eligible for reimbursement out of the security posted by the licensee, in case the licensee goes bankrupt, of course. Based on the consultations which the Canadian Grain Commission held with producers and industry stakeholders, the statutory period will be 90 days.

The bill also contains a provision requiring the grower to notify the Canadian Grain Commission within 30 days if a grain company has not met its obligations.

It also contains a provision making the grower responsible for determining whether he is dealing with a duly accredited company. Since accredited companies are the only ones that have to provide security to the Canadian Grain Commission, claims against the security will not be valid if a grower deals with a non-accredited company.

We also find a provision requiring the grower to obtain documents authorized by the Canadian Grain Commission from grain dealers and other Commission licensees.

The bill also contains a provision allowing the Commission to set a limit on the protection afforded by the security. The Commission could not use this regulatory power without the approval of the Governor in Council. At present, the protection is total-100 per cent-and will remain so in the foreseeable future.

There is also a provision explicitly limiting the Canadian Grain Commission's obligation to the amount of the security provided by the companies which it accredited. This provision exists to make the protection which the growers enjoy closer to the security provisions commonly found in other sectors. It is similar to the limits set on the amount guaranteed by the government when financial institutions fail.

I realize that I went quickly, but for these reasons, I will support Bill C-51 presented by the government.

Canada Grain ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at third reading of Bill C-51 which amends the Canada Grain Act.

The Canada Grain Act regulates grading and inspection of grain, maximum tariffs on handling charges including elevation, cleaning, drying and so on. The act also restricts in some cases transportation of grain. It is involved in licensing of businesses dealing in or handling grain and also in the security requirements of these companies.

The Canadian Grain Commission oversees the act. It is made up of appointed commissioners who seem, for some reason, to turn over to some extent after an election.

Today I will discuss the changes to the Canada Grain Act which are proposed in Bill C-51. I will discuss these changes under three headings: first, excessive power moved to the hands of the minister and to cabinet; second, maximum tariffs on handling charges; and third, bonding and licensing. As well as these three main areas I will speak briefly about a few other areas which I think are of particular interest.

I will begin with the excessive power moved to the hands of the minister and cabinet under the changes made in Bill C-51. In this bill an increased amount of legislative action is given to the governor in council which is the formalized constitutional body through which the federal cabinet exercises executive power. The executive instrument of the governor in council is known as an order in council which represents delegated legislative power as permitted under specific acts of Parliament.

This delegated legislative power gives cabinet, or really the minister, the ability to enact subordinate legislation by order in council or by regulation. Power delegated through enabling legislation is so common that the law is effectively formed by administrative bodies rather than by Parliament as it should be.

The legislator's role should be to pass the initial legislation authorizing certain agencies to devise, promulgate and supervise regulations as may be deemed necessary to give full effect to a particular act.

Too much power is continuing to be centralized in governor in council. In this bill, clauses 2, 4, 9, 15, 33 and 35 are examples.

How can the Liberals reconcile this with their red book promises of more open and more democratic government? Why are they formalizing control in cabinet? The argument that was presented when this question was raised is that the bill only legitimizes the authority that is there anyway.

If the government is serious about moving to a more open and less interventionist style of government, why did it not remove these powers rather than just formalizing what was there anyway?

This expansion of the scope and use of governor in council power which has occurred at the expense of the power of the legislature or Parliament is largely a result of the increasing complexity of modern government. However this delegated legislative power may involve matters of administrative routine right up to matters of major political and economic consequences. A wide range of issues are dealt with by the order in council power.

Such legislation is so extensive that Parliament can do little other than conduct random checks and investigate only some apparent abuses. The decisions made by cabinet or governor in council are based on informal procedures and the deliberations are secret. This amounts to little more than government by cabinet decree with no accountability.

In this bill there are an increasing number of areas for which the Canadian Grain Commission will now require governor in council approval. Conceivably the Liberal government under the revised act would be given the ability to covertly affect the interest of an individual farmer, a farm group or a grain dealer, for example, which is not operating according to its wishes. Dare I suggest this change opens the door to pay-offs for political favours or punishment for political foes. This is the type of thing the governing Liberal Party campaigned against during the election.

In two cases in this bill there is a movement toward less ministerial control. This bill states that the Canadian Grain Commission will have the power to set the salaries for the members of the eastern and western standards committees which have 26 members and the grain appeal tribunal which is made up of three members. This is in clauses 4 and 6 of this legislation.

Currently the salaries of members of these committees are fixed by governor in council at a $125 honorarium per day for non-government participants and $10 per sample for the grain appeal tribunal. The commission will now be setting the salaries for committee members in order to better reflect the reality and provide the Canadian Grain Commission with additional flexibility to make adjustments without having to go to order in council.

The second area I would like to talk about briefly this morning is the setting of maximum tariffs. Clause 14 and some following clauses eliminate over two years the requirement for the Canadian Grain Commission to set maximum tariffs charged by grain elevators. Instead the Canadian Grain Commission is provided with the discretion to decide whether or not it wishes to regulate this aspect of the grain industry while eliminating the requirement that elevator operators have to give advance notice to the Canadian Grain Commission of changes to elevator charges. Tariffs are fees charged for handling, cleaning, storage and drying of grain, that type of thing.

Removing these tariffs is a positive step. My concern though is with the grain companies that own primary, that is the country elevators, as well as terminal elevators. It is very common in the grains industry for companies to own the farm elevators that farmers ship directly to as well as the terminal elevators which are responsible for receiving the grain in port position and loading it on the ships. Those grain companies may lower the tariffs in the country elevators which is good, but they may at the same time raise the tariffs in the terminal elevators to make up for the cut rates in the country.

This would be fine if only these companies were dealing through their terminals. However these terminals are semi-public terminals by law which means that companies and individuals other than the owners are allowed to ship grain through the terminal.

I am afraid these changes may cause an increased rate at the terminal. The smaller companies which are provided an opportunity by law to deal through the terminals may be squeezed out of business. The rates could be raised beyond that which is reasonable.

Just to make this very clear, there is a provision in place which allows the Canadian Grain Commission to set a maximum in cases where the rate is raised too much. That provision is there and I will talk a bit about that in a minute.

The irony is that while I am concerned about this happening, the positive result from this type of action could be that the small companies may decide to improve the direct hit loading. That is simply loading directly from rail car to ships which started in the port of Vancouver and they may actually expand this to increase the competition. I see this as something positive.

The other positive thing that may result from this is more grain movement through the United States and through American terminals so that Canadian farmers have another option when there is a disruption in grain movement within Canada. That would encourage settlements by those in the grain handling industry, including the companies that own the business and labour. Settlement may be encouraged if they know there is competition so that they cannot stop the flow of grain.

I touched on my concern before about the Canadian Grain Commission or order in council maintaining the power to set the maxmimum tariffs. By getting rid of the maximum tariffs it gives the grain buyers more authority to penalize people who put grain in terminals and do not move it quickly enough. This is in clause 14 of the bill. I believe this is a good move. However, since we know that government wants to increase and not decrease the authority of the Canadian Wheat Board for example, cabinet just may choose to reverse these penalties in cases where the Canadian Wheat Board is affected.

Could the ability to invoke governor in council authority be used in the future by government to give even more power to the central selling desk of the Canadian Wheat Board to further regulate the grain sector? This is a legitimate concern.

With the present legislation the terminals do not have the power to penalize the Canadian Wheat Board for dumping grain for which they do not have an immediate buyer. All other shippers of grain must have a buyer ready before they can move the grain to port. The Canadian Wheat Board is the exception.

We have found over this past year that the Canadian Wheat Board moved grain into terminal position for which it had no buyer. This was the case particularly in Thunder Bay. Without the ability of the companies that own the terminals to raise the tariffs, this put them at a disadvantage because they could not move the grain due to the terminals being plugged with Canadian Wheat Board grain. At least now the law provides for them to raise this rate, but it also provides for the minister to say: "No, this is out of line. We are going to lower the rate".

That overriding power concerns me. I understand there is some need for that because in a business where there really is not enough open competition there could be a rise in tariffs which is not justified. There is a balance. It is tricky to find the balance, but I am just expressing some of my concerns.

The third area I want to talk about today is bonding and licensing requirements and the proposed changes under this piece of legislation. A major change in the bill involves the clear legislative removal of any responsibility on the part of the Canadian Grain Commission and therefore the taxpayers, above the level of the bond that is posted by the Canadian Grain Commission to a licensed company. In the past, courts have required the Canadian Grain Commission to cover losses above the bond level.

Companies buy bonds to protect the customers they do business with against losses up to the bond level if they go out of business. In the past the courts have determined that somehow the Canadian Grain Commission and therefore the taxpayers have a responsibility to cover losses above the level of the bond.

However in at least two cases over the past years taxpayers have also been forced to cover losses for companies which have not been licensed under the Canadian Grain Commission. Therefore, there is no responsibility on the part of the Canadian Grain Commission or the taxpayers. The Auditor General was very critical of the bailouts of these two companies which seemed to be politically motivated.

With the changes that are made in this area there is no doubt at all that farmers will not be protected above the level of the bond. The courts will not be able to determine that taxpayers should somehow be held responsible for farmers and grain companies through funds from the Canadian Grain Commission.

The Canadian Grain Commission does however monitor these bonds to try to determine whether the licensed companies are operating within the level of the bonds. This is a very difficult thing to do and it is very expensive. It is a function which does offer some degree of protection. At the same time while the monitoring is there, the grain commission is not responsible if the monitoring is ineffective. That is a concern.

Once again the Canadian Grain Commission has the power but does not take the responsibility for its mistakes. It has the power to refuse to licence a company, to require expensive insurance and bonding. It spends the money to perform these functions, but again the only protection is provided by the companies and the protection is only up to the level of the bond. It is important that farmers know this.

For this reason I believe that elevators and grain dealers should have the right to choose to opt out of this licensing and bonding requirement. This was the reason for my first amendment to Bill C-51, Motion No. 3, which was debated and defeated at report stage. That amendment would have allowed individual elevator companies, grain dealers, to choose to opt out of the licensing requirements under the Canada Grain Act.

It is very expensive and very difficult for some small companies to provide the bonding and insurance the Canadian Grain Commission may require. In those cases these companies could have chosen to opt out.

The protection we offered to farmers and people doing business with these companies is that on the premises there would be a sign very clearly stating that the place of business was not licensed under the Canadian Grain Commission. As is done in other areas with this type of body, on the front of every contract it would have been required to clearly state that the company you were about to enter into a contract with was not licensed under the Canada Grain Act. That was the protection for farmers.

As well, the amendment would have provided the flexibility so that when a company did opt out it no longer had to meet any of the requirements of the Canada Grain Act. This amendment would also have allowed companies, if they chose, to use the grading and inspection services that the Canadian Grain Commission provides, of course at a cost as is done now.

There are a few other points that I want to raise. One further clause in this bill authorizes the Canadian Grain Commission to suspend licences of primary elevators where overages exceed allowable limits.

Overage is just a difference between the amount of grain an elevator has in store compared to the amount it should have in store when looking at the records of shipments and receipts of grain. This is to offer some protection that in fact companies are paying their customers for what has been brought in and put through the facility.

Another clause confirms the authority of the Canadian Grain Commission to require operators to fully insure the grain in their elevators. It requires that prospective licensees provide specified financial data which demonstrates their financial viability.

What they are talking about here is a little bit closer monitoring of the bonds. While it is impossible to make sure that a company is operating within the bond level, it was pretty clear from what happened in the past when companies failed that the monitoring was not as good as it should be.

A further step in this bill involves movement of grain within Canada. This may surprise some people although people who are knowledgeable in the grain industry know this, the legislation seems to grant free movement within the eastern division or within the western division, a line drawn just west of Thunder Bay. This is in clause 25 of this bill. My question is: Why should there be any restriction to interprovincial trade and grain in this country? Yet, there is.

This legislation will allow free movement within the eastern division or within the western division but not between the two divisions. This seems absurd. To add further to that under the Canadian Wheat Board Act it is still against the law to transport grain from province to province even within a division. This seems absurd when you consider we are moving to more free and open trade with the world.

A further change requires that licensed grain dealers use the Canada Grain Act grade names in all of their transactions with farmers and grant the authority of the Canadian Grain Commission to act against companies which illegally use them. This has almost been a normal practice in the industry and this change only legitimizes what is already happening.

My concern is that dealers do not have the right to operate as unlicensed businesses. They may apply to the Canadian Grain Commission which may choose to grant them the right to operate without a licence but it is not a right. Of course my amendment which was defeated at report stage would have provided this as a right.

I believe that farmers and dealers in the industry want a change which will allow a dealer to operate as an unlicensed dealer and choose to deal in either ungraded grain or grain which has been graded by the Canadian Grain Commission. They want the choice. Because farmers are paying for the majority of the operating costs of the Canadian Grain Commission, they should be provided with the choice.

In conclusion, one witness in committee referred to the bill as the reregulation of the industry. The time has come for an open and honest evaluation of the role of the Canadian Grain Commission to determine what functions it should perform and how it should perform them.

The evaluation must determine what farmers want in areas that affect them and what others in the industry want in areas that affect them. The role of the Canadian Grain Commission should be to provide no more or no less than what is wanted by players in the industry.

Canada Grain ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I reiterate the statements made by my hon. colleague from Vegreville. He made a very good speech on what this change to the grain commission act really is. I will add a few comments.

As members of the standing committee on agriculture know very well, I am not a big friend of the Canadian Grain Commission. I was very close to the issue when Grandin wheat was smuggled into the country and put the reputation of our milling wheat at stake. The way the grain commission acted on the issue was really appalling. Not only did it not try to keep the grain out of the country but it more or less showed the smugglers, as I call them, how to get around the rules and regulations to bring it in and fill their pockets with wheat that was really not suited for our area.

It makes me wonder: I see a bill like this one that says deregulation and then I see it is probably open to loopholes whereby small players could be put out of business in a very short time.

When I look at small elevator companies with no terminals, I wonder how they will be able to compete with a very low tariff in the country. When grain is shipped to the terminals of larger

players they can be hammered with the tariffs and put out of business. That is not fair. The grain commission was put in place to see that everyone was treated equally, small players or big players.

Why would large grain companies be worried about exporting grain if their terminal charges were so high they actually made more money by keeping it there than moving it once or twice during the year? It is a deterrent to exporting grain outside the country.

We have small players in the grain industry like small seed cleaning plants. They are really the entrepreneurs in the special crops industry. They were the people who put at risk the bit of capital they had by experimenting with lentils and with peas. These small players are going to be licensed and regulated to a point where they cannot exist. I received a call from a small seed plant owner one day who said: "Jake, to enforce the new regulations in the act it will cost me $20,000 extra for doing my books". A chartered accountant will now do his books which were always done by him and his family.

The accounting and the bonding are putting these small players out of business. Every farmer knows the reputation of the seed plants in their areas. They have been in business for years and have never defrauded anyone of a single dime. They are now going to be put out of business. That is wrong.

Another thing that is wrong is that grain commissioners are paid by farmers; 90 per cent of their wages are from farm receipts. However what input do they have in who the commissioners are? This is a point in our democracy that must be changed. When a player pays he should also have the right to know whom he is paying.

Clause 4 of the bill also bothers me. It would permit the Canadian Grain Commission rather than the governor in council to fix allowances paid to members of grain standards committees and grain appeal tribunals, removing the set of rules as far as payment is concerned one step further from the House. Before it was the governor in council and farmers who had some input. Now it is to be removed from the governor in council and given to commissioners to set wages for grain weighing tribunals or grading standards people.

This is not very effective nor what farmers want. I do not think it saves the taxpayer money. I would equate that to putting the fox into the chicken coop instead of outside the door. It is dangerous and should not be allowed to happen.

Clause 21 of the bill really bothers me. Under the clause process elevators, unlike primary elevators, would no longer have to perform weighovers to determine whether there is an overage or a shortage, a discrepancy between the amount a grain elevator has in store and the amount it really paid for. This is to recognize that process elevators are not required to account for grain delivered by producers.

Why should process elevators be treated any different from primary elevators? These are the elevators that are processing the special crops. These are the process elevators that really turn over the dollars, where the big bucks are. Very little overage or a shortage can increase their profit margins and it is all coming out of the pockets of farmers. It will open the door to more corruption and more lost revenue for farmers. If we want a bill that is fair to everyone, it should be on a basis where primary and processing elevators are treated exactly the same.

My colleague touched on another item I do not like. Public carriers will only be able to transport grain in the west, not into the east or vice versa. It is another regulation that will hinder value added processing companies.

Just this week a small miller in Manitoba tried to export to another province. He will be able to do so under this act into Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. However he cannot go into Ontario and compete with the bigger processors or the millers. The country should be shared by everyone. We have agreed to the establishment of the World Trade Organization but we do not have free trade in our own country.

There is so much to be said about the government that we could probably talk all day long. One of these days in the House, especially when we are not debating this bill, I will mention to hon. members what the old red combine did to my farming operation. We could probably debate a few matters outside this bill.

When I commented in the standing committee that there should be a revamping of the Canadian Grain Commission I was not very far off. Farmers will very much support that idea, just like they supported the idea that the Grain Transportation Agency should be done away with.

It amazes me that we can debate bills in the House and agree in committee 100 per cent, Liberals, Bloc and Reform, but legislation does not get passed. I would suggest very strongly to the House that if we want the farming industry to stay in business we will have to start making real deregulation, not superficial.

As far as I am concerned the bill is giving the grain handling system the chance to increase its revenue without considering what it will cost farmers. We will not have the free movement of grain we should have. The bill will give us competition, but the competition will be limited. The amount of tariff that can be charged will be set by larger players with no regulation. That really bothers me. We have to start realizing that the primary producer should be protected by bills like this one, not the major players, the processors or the grain handling system.

My colleague did a very good job on the other issue that is wrong with the bill. I wholeheartedly suggest to members across the way that if western Canada does not get a few fair shakes in some of these bills, maybe we will start seeing more grain moving to the south, which will be detrimental to the country.

I am a Canadian. I like rules and regulations that benefit Canadians, but my children and my neighbours' children who are farming need to survive and have a profit. If we do not start drawing up bills to protect the farming industry, we are in big trouble.

With that I will close my remarks and turn the debate over to someone else.

Canada Grain ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

The Canadian BouquetStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, June 4, 1992, I informed the House of my constituent Mr. Michael Reynolds and his contribution to Canadian unity, "The Canadian Bouquet".

The painting is a collage of the provincial and territorial flowers of Canada. This picture of beauty and unity is symbolic of the greater unity of the people of Canada. A pledge of unity was also drafted and accompanied the nearly 25,000 prints sold to raise money for charity.

The pledge reads:

We the people, for love of country and in recognition of 125 years of Canadian Confederation, make this pledge. Until the seasons cease to change, each new spring will bring forth the flowers of "The Canadian Bouquet" in a united Canada.

Today more than ever Canadians must reaffirm their commitment to the very best country in the world. This pledge and print aim to serve that purpose.

Youth Entrepreneurial ProgramStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, business and industry are the engines that drive economic growth in Canada. For this reason it is of utmost importance to encourage the traditional Canadian entrepreneurial spirit.

This week I was delighted to present awards to the winners of the youth entrepreneurial program in the Carleton-Charlotte region of New Brunswick. This program was sponsored by the Carleton Regional Development Commission in partnership with ACOA and the provincial department of advanced education and labour.

Eleven university students presented their options for new businesses and from these presentations, three winning business plans were selected.

I offer congratulations to the winners: Lisa Gionet, Nancy Martin and Simon MacInnis. I extend my appreciation to all participants and the organizers for the event.

There is a new confidence in Canada, and the government's jobs and growth strategy is working. The Canadian entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well once again.

Human Rights DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, December 10 is International Human Rights Day. I would ask all my colleagues to take some time tomorrow to remember the numerous areas of conflict around the world and the men, women and children who are victims of human rights abuses on a daily basis.

As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to increase general awareness of human rights abuses occurring globally and raise these issues in the House.

I hope that in the coming new year all parliamentarians will continue to work together in bringing human rights violations to the forefront and in spreading the message that these violations are unacceptable.

Parliamentarians can make a difference when they collectively speak out on human rights no matter where they occur.

Social Program ReformStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning I want to give you another example of flexible federalism or, rather, federalism which ignores the legitimate proposals of a group of students.

Yesterday, the students' federation of the University of Ottawa was invited by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to a public consultation on the social program reform. The minister remained silent throughout the hearings and did not take any notes. Moreover, the minister's assistant led students to believe that the discussion was being recorded. A verification revealed that no recording was made. This illustrates the federal government's real idea of what public consultation is.

Is this the kind of federalism that the government wants to propose to Quebecers and Canadians? Flexible federalism is nothing but federal indifference. The government is more interested in imposing its already set ideas than in discussing issues with the others concerned.

Pre-Budget ConsultationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a report tabled yesterday, Liberal members are paving the way for a new tax increase affecting all taxpayers, thus reneging on the election promise made by the Prime Minister not to raise taxes.

Besides recommending this possible surtax, the Liberal majority on the finance committee proposes to increase the tax burden of the middle class by imposing a new tax on gasoline and by giving the Minister of Finance full scope to tax RRSPs and pension funds in particular.

Moreover, by recommending additional cuts of $3.4 billion to social programs, the Liberal members on the finance committee confirm how despicable the Axworthy reform is, since it seeks to reduce the deficit on the backs of the unemployed, welfare recipients and students.

Faced with these unacceptable recommendations from the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, in a dissenting report, proposed ten progressive and specific recommendations to reduce the deficit and create jobs.

Draft Bill On Quebec SovereigntyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, during the debate on the Quebec referendum process, Bloc Quebecois members were quite surprised by the lack of historical perspective shown by Liberal members as a whole, and more particularly Quebec Liberal MPs.

While they all were quick to condemn the regional consultation process on the draft bill regarding sovereignty, calling it illegitimate and undemocratic, they conveniently forgot that, in 1981, there was no consultation and no referendum, in spite of the nearly unanimous opposition of the Quebec National Assembly to the new Constitution.

They also forgot that the Meech Lake Accord was rejected in 1990 without a referendum and that the parliamentary process leading to the Charlottetown Accord in 1993, which was unequivocally rejected by the people, was flawed.

Obviously, members opposite have a short memory. And yet they are the ones who took part in the unilateral patriation of the Constitution through an undemocratic process.

Chiropractic ProfessionStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, 1995 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the chiropractic profession. Few people know that the study of this profession was founded by a Canadian, Mr. Daniel David Palmer, born at Port Perry, Ontario.

Today its practice is used worldwide. In fact many members of this Chamber, including myself, use its services.

I would like to extend to all members of this honourable profession a happy anniversary. I would also like to let them know that I share their disappointment over the decision of Canada Post not to commemorate this achievement in the medical area.

First Nations Self-GovernmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, Wednesday, December 7 was an important day in the history of Canada and our relationship with the First Nations people.

It was on this day that the dismantling agreement was signed by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Grand Chief Phil Fontaine that heralds the beginning of self-government. I am pleased this initiative is taking place in my home province of Manitoba.

This agreement will give the First Nations the authority, the responsibility, and the accountability to govern their own affairs.

I was proud to attend this historical event, proud to be part of an initiative that represents co-operation, mutual respect and trust between the government and the First Nations of Canada.

I applaud the minister and the First Nations for their commitment to finding common ground on which self-government can be built in Manitoba and ultimately in Canada.

Human Rights DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we celebrate the 46th anniversary of International Human Rights Day.

The world has since shown greater respect for freedom and human dignity. The Berlin wall has collapsed, the iron curtain has been lifted, apartheid has been abolished, and dictatorships have been overthrown.

At the same time we note with sorrow that citizens of other nations continue to live in oppression, or are forced to wage bloody wars to secure freedom.

We shall not despair. New tools for dialogue are emerging. Trade missions have built bridges of understanding and respect for one another. Canada is proud to have its International Centre for Human Rights. As a nation we should be proud of our leadership in this field, doing our utmost to promote peace and justice throughout the world to secure human dignity for all.

Government Of CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, on November 29 a Manitoba Liberal member of Parliament stated in the House that the Liberal government cares about Canadians and cares about the economy.

Let me tell you about this caring government. This caring government continues to support the gold-plated pension plan while denying Manitoba cattle producers fair compensation for their depopulated herds. They spend $45 million needlessly backtracking grain and deny an FSAM II payment to an eligible farmer due to a postal mix-up.

This government provides crown corporation executives with $300,000 interest free loans while the Farm Credit Corporation forces farmers into receivership due to compounded interest.

To top it off, this caring government is talking of increasing gasoline taxes and taxing lottery winnings.

Care indeed. My foot.

Health CareStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was recently visited in my constituency office by Barbara Mayer and Doreen Armitage, both of whom suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic rheumatic disorder involving widespread pain and profound fatigue.

Headaches and irritable bowel are also among the approximately 35 other symptoms making diagnosis very difficult and complicating disability compensation claims for sufferers.

The degree of fibromyalgia can vary from very mild to extremely disabling. Doctors have no effective treatment and it is often difficult for patients to convince others of the true state of their health.

Two-thirds of the sufferers are women and up to 5 per cent of the population may be affected. Unfortunately it is only in recent years that the disease has started to receive attention so there is a serious lack of research funding.

For this reason I urge all members to do whatever they can, financially or otherwise, to support research initiatives connected with fibromyalgia.

Northern Tax AllowanceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the solution to our growing debt is not to increase revenues but to reduce government expenditures.

Northerners use a greater percentage of their disposable income for the bare essentials of food, shelter and clothing than do Canadians living further south. Northerners must pay more for food because it has to be trucked over longer distances. They pay more for fuel to heat their homes over the longer, colder winters. They pay more for medical care and education when they send their children south to specialists or universities.

We know the Minister of Finance is looking for easy tax grabs to fund continued overspending. Although it does not begin to compensate for all the differences, the northern residence deduction helps offset some of these additional costs.

On behalf of all northerners I ask the Minister of Finance to carefully consider the positive impact this tax deduction has provided toward assisting northerners to meet their basic needs.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities AgencyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my thanks to the minister responsible for ACOA for the new course he is charting for Atlantic regional development.

The beginning of a Team Atlantic, the end of grants to business, and the focus on job creation are the solutions that Atlantic Canadians are searching for.

While the government is offering new direction, the hypocrisy and noise of members of the Reform Party shines through. In their desperate attempt to attack ACOA they have resorted to spurious innuendo, untruths and distortions not only on the agency's record but on ministers of the crown.

I say shame on the party that promised before the election to do politics differently. Some difference. In its usual way the Reform Party has resorted to American style smear campaigns. It just goes to show it is out of touch, out of mind and has nothing to offer Atlantic Canadians.

Decade Of The World's Indigenous PeopleStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Jack Iyerak Anawak Liberal Nunatsiaq, NT

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow Canada will welcome the start of the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous People.

The goal of the decade is to strengthen international co-operation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people around the world. Canada fully supports this goal and the theme of the decade: "Indigenous People: Partnership in Action".

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is co-ordinating the federal government's domestic efforts to mark this decade. Preliminary discussions have been held with aboriginal groups to obtain their views. A national conference is being organized for early in 1995 to set out Canada's preliminary action plan for the decade.

We look forward to the development of this plan as well as the development by the United Nations of a comprehensive world program of action.

I encourage everyone to support the goals of this important decade.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Russell MacLellan Liberal Cape Breton—The Sydneys, NS

Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues recently stood in the House and admitted that she was beaten by a man.

A member of the Reform Party tried to connect this to the tragic situation five years ago in Montreal at l'École polytechnique by saying: "Let's not bring disrespect to that day by trying to use it for an inappropriate political agenda".

What is more appropriate than women saying in the House and across the country that abuse against women and children is not acceptable and they are not going to stand for it?

What better testimony to these 14 young women than the courage of the women of Canada in the support of abolishment of abuse against women? What is more appropriate than members standing individually and collectively to abolish violence against women in this country?

TaxationStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Lethbridge Alberta


Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance keeps telling us that his government is ready to listen to Canadians.

Witnesses told the finance committee that Canadians are taxed out. Reform listened to this and recommended that there be no new taxes. The government members on the other hand recommended a billion dollar gasoline tax.

I am hard pressed to remember anyone who came before the committee and said to tax gasoline.

Canada's business, academic and opinion leaders appeared before the committee and said that 3 per cent is not enough. They said that we have to stomp out this deficit. We have to kill it before the next recession.

Reform heard the message and recommended the budget be balanced in three years. The Liberal members continued to stick with the 3 per cent target.

A fair question is who was really listening to Canadians? It certainly was not the government members.

As the Minister of Finance finalizes his plans for the next budget I can only hope that he listens better than his Liberal friends.

Status Of The Artist ActStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, on June 23, 1992 Bill C-7, an act respecting the status of the artist and professional relations between artists and producers in Canada, received royal assent.

The government repeatedly promises to reform social programs and the economy to meet the needs of the new economy. The Liberals say they are committed to restructuring and encouraging stable growth in the areas of self-employment and small business. Yet when it comes to action to implement a model to empower the self-employed worker the government has done nothing.

The legislative and regulatory approach in the Status of the Artist Act is nothing less than a crucial step and the foundation for this new self-employment based economy. The approach to labour relations in this act has the approval of the 2.3 million workers in the Canadian Labour Congress.

On Wednesday, more than two years after the law was enacted, more than 500 cultural workers rallied in Toronto to push the government for action. When will this government show its commitment to these small business entrepreneurs and the people who elected it?

Draft Bill On Quebec SovereigntyOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday during the debate on the Official Opposition's motion to recognize the legitimacy of the process initiated by the Government of Quebec to determine its political future, government members repeatedly referred to Quebec's initiative as illegitimate, illegal and undemocratic, while during Question Period, the Prime Minister referred to it as raising unnecessary complications.

How can the Prime Minister refer to the process initiated by the Government of Quebec as raising unnecessary complications, when it is essentially based on two components, a draft bill and a very comprehensive process providing for genuine consultations with the people of Quebec?

Draft Bill On Quebec SovereigntyOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec


Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the opposition in Quebec City, there is also the government right here, the federal Liberal Party, as well as a steadily increasingly number of people in Quebec who realize that this is not a normal process, that the dice are loaded and that 13 out of 15 committee members will be appointed by the government.

We have a "yes" committee, financed by a government that is not financing any "no" committees. They do not need any committees or studies. Let them ask an honest question, no stratagems to confuse people but an honest question: Do you want to separate from Canada, yes or no? Not more than two lines, and the answer will be clear: Canada will win!