Mr. Speaker, I agree and I thank the House for indulging me. I assume it is because hon. members do not want to listen to me for 40 minutes.
I would like to clear up a potential misunderstanding. The hon. minister said in his presentation that some of the people involved in this debate did not know a bushel of barley from a bucket of rice.
I refer to that because part of the problem with the debate is that the Reform Party or the official opposition has been subject to allegations right from the beginning that somehow we are out to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board, that we are the enemies of the Canadian Wheat Board. I would like to elaborate on that point for a couple of minutes.
Currently there are 59 members in the Reform Party caucus. About half our caucus or 30 of them have farm backgrounds. They grew up on farms. They have friends and family members actively farming in western Canada. At least half of those, or 15 to 20 members, were actively farming before coming to this place. Some of them were very large commercial farm operations and enterprises.
It angers me when we are constantly bombarded from the government benches that somehow we do not have any credibility, that we are the enemies of the Canadian Wheat Board, that we want to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board. This is the type of nonsense that we listen to on a daily basis and have been listening to for a year and a half.
I do not have time to go over each member's background but in deference to them I would refer to just a few.
The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain, a riding in Saskatchewan for those who might be viewing the debate today in TV land and do not know where that riding is, has been a grain farmer for more than 30 years. He has 648 acres cultivated, another 320 acres in pasture and another 320 acres of grazing leased.
The hon. member for Lakeland, Alberta, who will be splitting my time this morning, grew up on a farming ranch. He has been a grain farmer for 28 years. He has 1,000 acres cultivated and now crop shares because he does not have time to actively farm full time because he is a member of Parliament.
The hon. member for Yellowhead, Alberta, grew up on a farm and farm grained for 30 years. He has 1,000 acres cultivated and still actively farms. His sons are increasingly involved in the family operation.
The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville, Saskatchewan, who spoke moments ago grew up on a farm. He has been a grain farmer for seven years. He has 900 acres cultivated and 100 acres in pasture. He currently leases out his farm but he still lives on the farm.
The hon. member for Athabasca, Alberta, grew up on a farm. He has been a grain and cattle farmer for 35 years. He has 1,000 acres cultivated, 500 acres in pasture and has currently leased out his farm.
I grew up on a farm in British Columbia in Peace River country. I farmed grain and grew grass seed and canola for 20 years full time. My brother and I have 3,000 acres. We expanded the family farm over a number of years to eventually have 3,000 acres under cultivation. I recently sold my interest to my brother who still farms that farming operation in B.C.
The member for Selkirk—Interlake, Manitoba, grew up on a farm and has been a cattle rancher for 30 years. He has 250 acres cultivated and 3,800 acres in pasture. He still actively farms when he has time away from his MP duties.
The member for Portage—Lisgar, Manitoba, grew up on a farm and for 35 years has had a mixed farming operation. He has 1,900 acres cultivated, 500 acres in pasture and currently leases out his farm to family members.
The member for Wetaskiwin, Alberta, grew up on a farm and has had a mixed farming-ranching operation for 30 years. He has 850 acres cultivated, 90 acres in pasture and currently leases out his farm on a share basis.
The member for Peace River, my counterpart in the Alberta Peace River area, grew up on a farm and has farmed for 30 years. He is a grain farmer with 2,000 acres cultivated. He still actively farms with his son. I could go on, but I picked those members at random.
During report stage we were accused of saying that members opposite should not be allowed to speak. We were trying to encourage them to speak. They did not want to take part in the debate. Only three or four of them rose the whole time we were on report stage amendments.
We were not saying that because they come from Newfoundland or New Brunswick or Toronto they should not be part of the debate. We were trying to say that we have a bit of credibility on this issue. That is what we were trying to say. Reform members have a very serious interest in this issue. We have a lifetime of experience talking about the Canadian Wheat Board.
We encourage fishermen, people with a background in business, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs to be involved in the debate and to put forward their opinions. It is the same as when we put forward our opinions on other issues that we might not have a personal background in.