Madam Speaker, I rise today to address Motions Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 put forward by the member for Brandon—Souris and the member for Lethbridge.
Motions Nos. 2 and 3 seek to add a new definition of shipper to the Canada Transportation Act. One proposed definition states:
“shipper”, in respect of a contract for the movement of grain, means the person who is identified as the shipper on the bill of lading.
The other states that a shipper means the person responsible for transferring the grain to the carrier. Let me point out that there is already a definition of shipper in the current transportation act. The act already defines the shipper as a person who sends or receives goods by means of a carrier or intends to do so.
In Bill C-34 the government did not change that definition. If we were to accept the proposed definitions, we would end up having two definitions of shippers in the act. Similar motions were debated at committee stage and were not supported.
Adding a special definition for grain shippers would be confusing, should an interested party wish to file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency. It seems that this is a back door attempt to get at the issue of the Canadian Wheat Board's transportation role.
Let me say that the Canadian Wheat Board's transportation role is being addressed through a memorandum of understanding that was shared with the Standing Committee on Transport last week. A memorandum of understanding is a document to be signed by the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and the Canadian Wheat Board itself.
The MOU reflects the government's decision, which was made after very careful consideration of the recommendations made by Mr. Justice Estey and Mr. Kroeger, and the extensive feedback from many stakeholders. The changes move to a more commercially based system involving tendering while at the same time addressing the concerns of producers about the ability of the wheat board to successfully fulfil its marketing mandate.
Motion No. 5 states that if there is a conflict between the Canada Transportation Act or any regulations made under this act and any other act that applies to the movement of grain, or any regulations made under that other act, the Canada Transportation Act prevails.
I draw attention to subsection 4(1) of the Canada Transportation Act. This section already addresses the issue of conflicts between orders or regulations made under the Canada Transportation Act and orders or regulations made under any other act in respect of a particular mode of transportation. The Canada Transportation Act states that the order or regulation made under the Canada Transportation Act shall prevail. I believe that this is once again an effort to change the government's policy decision on the transportation role of the Canadian Wheat Board.
As for Motion No. 6, it would preclude the Canadian Wheat Board from entering into contracts with the railways for the movement of grain, beginning no later than July 31, 2005. The Canadian Wheat Board's transportation role has been covered in the memorandum of understanding.
As part of its decision on grain handling and transportation, the government will establish a mechanism of continuous monitoring, measurement and reporting to provide information to the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board on the impact of these reforms and the overall performance of the reformed grain handling and transportation system. Should the monitor identify any problems or opportunities to improve the system further, the government will be in a position to act. I do not support the motions as presented.