An hon. member is saying “Keep on going”. These letters are available for anyone who would like to read them.
The opposition is not just coming from me or my Reform colleagues. The opposition is not just coming from groups that want to end the board's monopoly and make it a voluntary board. The opposition is coming from farmers and farm groups across western Canada.
The next issue I would like to talk about is the government's handling of the bill. It is important for Canadians, not just farmers, to think about the way the bill has been handled.
In spite of disagreement from all the groups I have referred to, in spite of what the grain marketing panel recommended, the government seems absolutely determined to push the bill ahead. In fact it invoked closure on the bill. We only have one day to debate third reading of the bill. We will vote on it tonight and the government, with its majority, will force it through. Its members will stand up one after another tonight to pass the bill.
As I look at those members standing, one by one by one tonight, I will think of how passing the bill affects their lives. It does not. Not directly. However the bill will affect the livelihoods of western Canadian grain farmers.
As the previous speaker indicated, about 30 Reform MPs have a strong agricultural background. Many are still involved in farming as I am. My farm is rented out on a crop share. I have wheat and barley to market. I am limited by the board's monopoly just like my neighbours and others across the country.
As members opposite stand one by one to support the bill, who are they speaking for? Are they speaking for western Canadian farmers? I think not. Western Canadian farmers have spoken out against the bill. Who are they speaking for?
With the inclusion clause they are speaking for the hon. member for Malpeque who is the sole reason the clause was included in the bill. It is a hare-brained idea he came forward with. His government picked it up and will ram it through against widespread opposition from western Canada.
The government's handling of this issue has been all wrong. It ignored the polls, including a poll in Saskatchewan which showed that it should be ending the monopoly. It has ignored the democratic process. It has ignored the submissions to committee. The bill should have been canned a long time ago. We should have started from scratch.
Where to from here? Does the bill put to rest the issues of wheat board monopoly, lack of accountability, lack of openness and of whose grain it is? No, it does not.
In one way the bill has united farmers. It has united them against Bill C-4. That is the only way it has united farmers and not in a positive way.
The legislation will continue the rift in western Canada between those who want the board monopoly and those who want a voluntary board. The issue again is not whether we want the wheat board but what type of board we want. It will further split farmers. We see debate on the issue increasing. The minister will find added pressure and will pay the political price for the divisiveness that he has put out to the rural communities in western Canada. That is sad.
I look forward to the debate from hon. members of all parties in the House.