I went further when I appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food to discuss Bill C-4 last October. I told the committee that I had consulted with farm groups about election methodology and I asked that committee the exact same questions that I asked the farm groups. So Parliament was fully informed and engaged and there was no complaint from the opposition for over three months.
The farm groups responded seriously and substantively both in writing and on January 21. I cannot help it if the Reform Party did not respond, even though it was specifically invited to do so through a parliamentary committee.
I will refer briefly to two remarks made on Tuesday by Reform members. The member for Peace River said: “The minister publicly stated that he wants the board of directors in place before this legislation has been debated properly on the floor of the House of Commons and passed”. In fact I have repeatedly stated the exact opposite. The board of directors cannot be in place. Democracy and accountability cannot be achieved for the Canadian Wheat Board unless and until Bill C-4 is finally debated and passed.
The member for Prince George—Peace River said: “I think it is high time that this House demonstrate to the ministers and their departments a little democracy over bureaucracy”. I agree. That is what Bill C-4 is all about, empowerment and democracy for prairie farmers. Surely a minister consulting with those farmers about how to get there is no question of privilege.