Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this morning on Bill C-4, formerly C-72. Thanks to the lack of foresight by the government during the 35th Parliament, we have to partially repeat the work the hon. members had done in this House on Bill C-72.
First of all, it must be made perfectly clear that the Canadian Wheat Board we are today trying to modernize, to update for the year 2000 and beyond, affects the grain producers of Quebec only very slightly. In reality, the Canadian Wheat Board is important in four provinces: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and part of British Columbia.
Unlike the Reform Party, the Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of Bill C-4, because we find it a reasonable attempt to modernize the Canadian Wheat Board, its board of directors in particular.
Thanks to the contributions by the Bloc Quebecois members sitting on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee, we have managed to get the number of directors elected by the grain producers themselves raised to 10. Before that, the good old federal government, with all of its great foresight, and particularly with its great generosity, was the one making the appointments. Obviously, we always tried to select the best, but the best is usually an acquaintance or a friend, someone who has done us a favour in the past.
For example, the government has just appointed Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache, a colleague of the Prime Minister, the former chairman of the yes committee in the 1992 referendum on the Charlottetown accord and a great friend of this country's federalists. Our fine Prime Minister, the member for Saint-Maurice, propelled this judge into a seat on the supreme court and it will be this judge who decides on Quebec's right to sovereignty.
In the riding next to mine, the very beautiful riding of Beauce, the member, Gilles Bernier, was an independent. In order to free this riding for a Liberal member, Mr. Bernier was also given an appointment. Although he had no previous experience, the government appointed him ambassador to Haiti.
When I was relatively young, the Trudeau government appointed the Créditiste member for the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska, my friend Lionel beaudoin, to the Canadian Wheat Board. A byelection was then called, and Alain Tardif was elected, and sat in the House until 1984, when the Conservative Party arrived in force. Funnily enough, he too was appointed a judge, but with the tax court.
You can see how it works. Where is the usual process for appointing people to the important jobs?
From now on, only five members of the board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board will be appointed by the Governor General in Council, the ten others will be elected democratically by the grain growers as a whole. The majority of the board of directors will be elected—a significant change—and under the control of the producers themselves.
Four appointments will be made by the Governor General in Council, that is friends once more. They will not be members of the Reform Party, but certainly friends of the Liberal régime will be sitting on the board.