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House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

7:05 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member's obsession with this issue is beginning to damage his own credibility. It is unfortunate to hear him having to resort to personal attacks. I guess we are used to it now, but it is kind of a sorry spectacle to see.

Actually he just started talking about the Algeria issue, and I would like to talk about that a bit because it is an important thing. I am glad he brought it up because I want to move into that. What he is referring to is the fact that the main grain buyer for the Algerian grain buying agency talked about the special deal that it gets from Canada.

I am going to quote from the original article tonight in order to point out that what I said in answer to his question should be of great concern to western Canadian farmers. Mr. Mohamed Kacem, the main grain buyer for the Algerian government, stated in this article that Algeria gains in a lot of ways from this longstanding trust-based relationship. It is the Government of Canada that provides Algeria with “guarantees...since it carries out” the product controls, he said, highlighting the fact that the selling price to Algeria is “carefully studied” because it is a “preferential” price for Algeria.

I am sure western Canadian farmers would like to know what that really means. The article explains that this special price saves Algeria “tens of dollars” on every tonne purchased. As far as controls are concerned, Algeria saves “over one dollar per tonne processed” as well.

We are told that on average Canada sells Algeria about 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of wheat per year. That is around 18 million bushels. If the article is accurate in what it is saying about “tens of dollars per tonne”, and if it is at around three and half, tens of dollars per tonne would work out to about a dollar per bushel. If it is 18 million bushels, we are looking at $18 million that western Canadian farmers have lost, just on these sales to Algeria.

I think there needs to be some investigation of this issue because clearly, as he says, Algeria is getting a special deal from Canada, and western Canadian farmers do not know what that special deal is.

It is interesting as well that western Canadian farmers are clearly indicating to us that they want choice. This Algerian example is one reason why they would be demonstrating that they want choice.

There are also a couple of other illustrations that we could use to demonstrate why this issue is important to western Canadian farmers. Right now malt barley is actually at a discount to feed barley in western Canada. Feed barley, of course, goes into the livestock industry, but farmers grow malt barley because it is a premium product. Farmers virtually always get a premium to feed barley, but unfortunately malt barley is sold by the board while feed barley can be sold by the board or on the open market. Feed barley right now is actually at a premium to malt barley.

Malt barley is being sold by the board right now. The final estimated price for the producers means that they are going to get about a dollar a bushel less than producers in the United States are getting for the same grain. People wonder why western Canadian producers want choice. That is one of the reasons. They can look at the price now. One of the grain companies is posting a daily international price. The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange is posting a daily international price. Farmers can go to those websites and take a look at what they could be getting if they were able to sell their own grain.

Right now the indication is that they would be able to get a dollar a bushel more for their barley than what the Wheat Board is estimating that it will be able to pay for the rest of this year.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

That's $100 an acre.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

As my colleague points out, that is $100 an acre for many farmers.

It is necessary that we have choice, and western Canadian farmers are expressing their opinion that they want it. The obsession by the member opposite--

7:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order. The hon. member for Malpeque.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary's response goes to the heart of his efforts to mislead and confuse.

Why would the parliamentary secretary quote from the article? He talked about the original document when in fact his own minister's appointed CEO has corrected that information. Mr. Arason, CEO of the Wheat Board, in a letter dated January 29, which the parliamentary secretary must know about, said this:

Mr. Kacem has advised us that some of his comments in the original article in the French daily were not properly interpreted by the journalist. Mr. Kacem feels the relationship between the CWB and OAIC is a commercial one first and foremost and that prices are based on international market values at the time of business.

A review of the original press article in French clearly shows that at no point does Mr. Kacem say that they enjoy 'very low prices'. The main message in the Algerian newspaper article centered on the positive commercial relationship the CWB and OAIC have enjoyed since the early seventies.

If the parliamentary secretary was unaware of that letter from the Wheat Board, for which he is directly responsible, he was derelict in his duties.

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, looking to the future, we need to acknowledge that there are many aspects of how the Canadian Wheat Board is going to be able to operate in a marketing choice environment, and those things need to be discussed. While the minister has asked the Canadian Wheat Board to develop a business plan for operating in a marketing choice environment in the future, the Canadian Wheat Board has not yet provided such a business plan to him.

The task force report that was done on the implementation of marketing choice for wheat and barley provided one model of how a reformed Canadian Wheat Board might operate. I would suggest that members dig out that report and take a look at it, because it is a very good report. It lays out very clearly one of the possible options or ways in which the Canadian Wheat Board could operate in a voluntary system.

There is a variety of ways to move forward. There will no doubt be further discussion of this issue once the results of the barley plebiscite are available.

7:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:14 p.m.)