Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the hour is late and that members want to leave. I have been waiting all evening to make a few remarks. As a matter of fact I have been waiting quite some time to make a couple of comments on Bill C-4. I will keep my comments short.
I come from northwest B.C. and I do not know very much about grain farming. I cannot drive by a field and tell the difference between wheat and barley. Some people say that I do not know the difference between corn and canola.
The parliamentary secretary was saying a few minutes ago that members on this side and grain farmers in western Canada should be thrilled with the wheat board and should be jumping up in support. Some of those farmers cannot jump up in support because they are in jail.
I give the example of Andy McMechan, a farmer from western Canada who had his equipment confiscated. He was thrown in jail. He was led away from his farm in shackles and chains because he had the audacity to smuggle his product across the border and sell it privately.
Was he growing marijuana? Was he growing opium? Was he growing cocaine? What product he was smuggling across the border in the middle of the night? It was wheat. It was grain.
He decided that he could get a better price for the grain he grew on his private property with his own seed that he purchased with his own money, with his own labour and with his own equipment. He had the audacity to bypass the Canadian Wheat Board to sell his grain privately. He wound up in jail and with untold costs. I am not sure what costs this man has faced as a result of defying the Canadian Wheat Board and defying the federal government in pursuit of obtaining the best price he could for his own private property.
We like to think that we live in a free country. As far as I am concerned this kind of action on the part of government in a free country is unacceptable.
I would like to ask the Liberal government whether it thinks this is fair, whether it thinks people in western Canada should jump up and be thrilled that they get thrown in jail if they do not sell their wheat through the Canadian Wheat Board.
It is a vivid example of the degree of intervention our big brother Liberal government has taken over the past two or three decades. It demonstrates a “we know better than you” attitude. It is nothing short of a power grab.
Not long ago a federal parliamentarian, and I will not name him, compared Canada to Cuba in the sense of attempting to say that Cuba was not such a bad place. He took some flak for that. A lot of people took umbrage with his remarks. I am not sure that he got it all wrong although I do not think it is in context of saying that Cuba is not all that bad. It is just that Canada ain't all that great when farmers cannot sell their own private property in a place they choose without being thrown in jail for doing it. We are not talking about banned substances. We are talking about wheat and grain.
The parliamentary secretary went on at great length talking about what a wonderful job the wheat board did. My question is for the government, the parliamentary secretary or anybody else who wants to defend the wheat board. I come at it from the perspective of somebody who knows very little about grain.
If the wheat board is doing such a wonderful job of marketing Canadian wheat, why do farmers who disagree and want to sell their grain on their own get thrown in jail? Why do they have to hear the jackboots of the government marching down the street to pull them out of their farms and throw them in jail because they have the audacity to sell their grain for the best price they can get? It is not a free country when this kind of thing happens. It is happening in the country today and Bill C-4 does nothing to address it.