Madam Speaker, we are now dealing with group 5. A number of amendments were put forward by the Bloc to this part of the bill which deals with the ratification or review of appointments to the agency.
Reform introduced an amendment to Bill C-60 at committee stage. Our amendment stated:
No appointment shall be made under subsection 10(1) unless it is approved by a subcommittee of each of such committee of the House of Commons as is designated or established to consider
(a) agriculture matters;
(b) health matters; and
(c) fisheries matters.
Government members chose to oppose that amendment in committee. Had it passed, it would have ensured that members of Parliament with knowledge and interest in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and health would have been able to review appointments to the advisory board of the agency. They would have been able to review the staffing decisions of the agency. That would have addressed the patronage issue which my colleague from the Bloc so eloquently berated.
We support Motion No. 3. It ensures that persons appointed to the agency's executive by the minister are qualified. It is important that these executives not be the local Liberal who happens to donate the most money in the last election.
It is sad that the Conservatives and the Liberals are trying to outdo each other on patronage appointments. Under the Mulroney Conservatives, Marjory LeBreton was the de facto minister of patronage. They did not have a minister in the House, but they might as well have, it was so blatant. Nobody got appointed to anything by that Conservative government unless they met the credentials of being a strong Conservative Party supporter. Of course she got the biggest plum of all. She was appointed to the Senate, where she is now able to make her pronouncements after being a party servant for so many years.
The Liberals, not to be outdone, chose Penny Collenette to be their de facto minister of patronage to hand out the appointments. We saw it recently in the appointment of returning officers across the country for the next election. That is the mindset of the Liberal government.
That is the fodder that feeds the political machinery. Some hope that down the road, if they pay my dues, donate enough money to the Liberal coffers, pound on enough doors or if they support the right person who happens to make it to the Prime Minister's chair or the leader of the party at least, they will get their reward and be well cared for.
It is one's party faithfulness and loyalty that becomes the paramount criterion for being appointed to these various boards, without public scrutiny and merit being the primary factor.
We support Motion No. 3.
Motion No. 4 limits the agency's executives to one term. If there is proper scrutiny of who these people are I do not think that type of step is necessary.
We support Motion No. 6. It would allow the standing committee to review the appointments to the agency. The last part of the amendment is a formula to force the minister to make the appointments based on an exact province by province formula. This is an excessive measure. It is getting away from merit and into a quota system. I believe members are quite aware of our feelings on people being appointed to positions or being hired based on quotas rather than merit.
We support Motion No. 7. It would allow the standing committee to review appointments to the agency's advisory board. We argued that position in committee and the Liberals rejected it.
We oppose Motion No. 8. It would allow the advisory board to advise a provincial government or a union-we are not sure why the Bloc put that in. Perhaps someone can change our mind with a good argument.
We oppose Motions Nos. 9 and 10. Motion 10 would require that at least one of the advisory board members be from the agency's union.
We support Motion No. 11. This amendment would require the minister appoint as president of the agency the person that the standing committee deems to be the best candidate. This brings accountability and allows elected people to have a constructive role in matters concerning government agencies and the creation of these agencies.
We support Motion No. 12. It allows the standing committee to review matters related to the new agency such as the advisory board members' pay. One of the things that damaged the Canadian Wheat Board the most was the fact that no one knew how much the appointed commissioners received in salary. All sorts of rumours floated around about what they received. Finally there was a leak concerning their benefit package if they were to retire or be fired.
Farmers were shocked to find out that they were paying severance packages of over $250,000 to these appointed commissioners. It was all kept secret. A lot of ill feelings developed toward the Canadian Wheat Board and the commissioners because this fact had been kept secret. Therefore, Reform supports this motion because it opens things up and everybody knows the dollars that are involved and whether or not they are adequate or too benevolent.
We support Motion No. 21. This would allow a review of the agency's operations once a year by the standing committee. Anything that can be done to bring elected people into a more meaningful role in reviewing the work of agencies such as the food inspection agency is a very positive step.