Mr. Speaker, it is kind of sad to have to stand in this place and outline my credentials before I start, but the attack on my person by government members is designed to try to discredit what I have to say.
As a former farm leader, I spent 11 years in western Canada on grain issues. I have probably been in as many, or more, farm yards than any of those folks across the way. I have been at many public meetings in the debates on these issues.
Why, as a member of Parliament from Prince Edward of Island, I am speaking on this issue, and the Canadian Wheat Board issue when that opportunity occurs, is that my office is swamped by phone calls, faxes and letters from western Canadian farmers, practising farmers who are concerned about where the Conservative government is taking Canada in terms of its farm policy. It is undermining the Canadian Wheat Board. Clearly, with this bill which has ignored so many of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, it is undermining the Canadian Grain Commission itself.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board talked about how Canadian grain is recognized as quality number one around the world. That is true. It is recognized as quality number one around the world.
Where we are seen as the quality supplier of grains around the world, the United States is seen as the residual supplier. The Americans may set price, but they are seen as the residual supplier. Why is that? Because farmers long ago advocated for an agency, a commission, the Canadian Grain Commission, that would protect their interests, that would ensure they were protected from the grain trade, along with the Canadian Wheat Board. It would ensure the quality that Canada sold was number one.
It is the Canadian Grain Commission which has put Canada's reputation where it is today, as have the farmers, in terms of producing that high quality grain. So let us give credit where it is due.
We have to ask, if we were to pass this bill as currently composed, would Canada still be recognized as the quality number one supplier of grains around the world? Would Canadian producers still have the protection from industry that they currently have and from the grain trade? As I read the bill, I do not believe they would.
There are some real concerns about what the government has proposed in terms of Bill C-39. What should have been a decent bill after the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food presented its report is like so much of what the current Conservative government does. It leaves out the balance in terms of the proposal and brings forward a bill that is more to do with ideology, with half measures, with no real intent to improve the system in an all conclusive way.
That is sad, because it would have been nice to be able to stand and congratulate the government for once, but again it has denied us that opportunity of support by basically ignoring the will and the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. By so doing, the government is ignoring the will and the recommendations of the farm community. Oh yes, the Conservatives cater to the few, as was clear in the parliamentary secretary's discussion about the meeting this week. They cater to the few, but they ignore the many.
The government has a responsibility in its actions to govern for the whole, not just those that the governing party is ideologically aligned with.
Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have?