Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-4.
I listened intently to the member of the Reform Party from Alberta, the last speaker for the official opposition. After listening to him, I really hope that no young Canadian boys and girls were listening to this debate. I say that because I think young people who listen to the debate and especially the contributions made by the Reform Party would come away from this debate believing that it is all right to distort the truth, that it is all right to twist the facts, that when it comes to this type of parliamentary debate, anything goes, there are no rules, no honour in this debate.
They never want to listen to debate. I have never seen a political party that is so afraid of the truth. Those members quake in their boots every time a government member stands up.
This member from Alberta mentioned that at one time back in the late thirties and in the forties the Canadian Wheat Board was a voluntary board and it was not a monopolistic board. Somehow he tried to leave the impression that it became a monopoly because that is what the government of the day wanted.
The fact is that from day one farmers on the prairies wanted a monopoly. They wanted single desk selling. If the truth were to be told, it was the Liberal government of the day that was reluctant to make it anything but a voluntary board. It was not until the 1950s that it became what it is today.
The sentiment and opinions of prairie farmers have changed very little. They do not want a voluntary board. They did not want a voluntary board then and they do not want a voluntary board now, despite anything the Reform Party says.
This Reform Party member who spoke a few moments ago talked about the board's not being democratic and that whatever the board would do under Bill C-4 somehow would be shoved down the throats of prairie farmers.
What is the fact of the matter? The fact is that Bill C-4 takes away many of the powers the government now has and puts those powers into the hands of farmers. The major mechanism of that is through a board and most of its members will be elected by farmers. On a 15 member board, there will be 10 elected by farmers and 5 appointed by the government. It sounds to me that it is going to be a board which reflects a democratic exercise.
A Reform Party member is saying just the opposite. This is why I am concerned about boys and girls who might be listening to this debate today. I do not want listeners especially the young people to believe that an opposition party can come into this House and just say whatever it likes. You cannot if you want to be ethical, and if you are bound to the truth, you will stick to the facts.
I want to touch on some other things. The official opposition which happens to be the Reform Party, and a number of other groups that oppose Bill C-4 have said that the federal government has ignored the Western Grain Marketing Panel and its recommendations. They have accused the government of not listening to the panel which it selected. This is clearly not the case and I will try to deal in facts.
I would like to indicate the extent to which Bill C-4 reflects the recommendations of the Western Grain Marketing Panel. I wonder if members of the Reform Party would like to listen to some facts. We will see if they want to listen to facts.
It was worth noting that in introducing its recommendations, the panel stated: “The principle behind these amendments would be one of making the act a more enabling piece of legislation, thereby giving the minister responsible more authority to make changes by regulation rather than having to refer the act to Parliament for amendment on each occasion”. This is lesson number one for the Reform Party. This principle is clearly embodied in Bill C-4.
Many aspects of the bill, such as those providing for more flexible payment options for farmers, would allow the CWB to do many things it cannot do today. However, the decision to implement these new services or not would rest where it should be, with the farmer controlled board of directors. I want to remind the Reform Party members that if they have not read Bill C-4, we are going to have a democratically controlled board of directors.