This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was grain.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to four petitions.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

October 20th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts, not more than two further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the second day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1 there will now be a 30-minute question period.

I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate.

I would ask members if they could keep their questions to approximately one minute and the responses a similar length of time so we can accommodate as many members as possible. As we have done before, the Chair will give precedence to members of opposition parties. While we will still allow some members of the government to ask questions, this is primarily for the opposition to question the government.

I will recognize the member for Windsor--Tecumseh.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, before I ask my question, I would suggest that you should probably not let the minister answer anything so we can use up some of the time on meaningful comments rather than the responses we will get from him.

My question for the minister is fairly straightforward. How many more of these time allocation motions are we going to have? We have sat for 25 days and I think this is the fourth time allocation motion on bills that are extremely important, this one at least as much as some of the other ones where time allocation has been moved.

The effect of time allocation is to end all debate at second reading stage on a bill that is extremely important. It is a historically important structure within the Government of Canada going back many years. The government is limiting debate to what will be a little over three days on a very important bill.

How many government members want to speak to it? I know many of our members want to speak to it.

How many more times is the minister going to do this?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, I find that a bit hypocritical coming from the member for Windsor—Tecumseh when he stood up and voted to adjourn debate yesterday. We are actually moving forward and giving him two more full days of debate in spite of his voting to adjourn debate at the end of the very first day. I am not sure exactly where he thinks he is on stable ground with that.

As the member well knows, time allocation is a valuable tool used by governments when it is needed. I do agree with his point that we do this when it is extremely important, but extremely important for the citizens of Canada and in this case, for western Canadian farmers.

What we are looking for is fairness. The member's farmers in Ontario have access to a voluntary board, which is doing extremely well. They made that change in 2003.

I am not sure how the member can stand in his place and say it is okay for his farmers in Ontario but the guys out in western Canada cannot have the same rights and privileges. That is absolutely untenable in a democracy, which is why we are seeking to make this change. We will use whatever is necessary to make that happen in a timely way.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, we in the Liberal Party are very disappointed in the way the government is manipulating the prairie wheat farmer.

The other day the government said that this was all about freedom. If we talk to the tens of thousands of prairie grain and wheat farmers, this is not about freedom. What the government is doing is crippling many opportunities for the farmers of small and large operations alike. Those farmers want this bill to be thoroughly debated.

The government is completely disregarding what a vast majority of the prairie wheat farmers wanted and said so in a plebiscite. Over 60% said that they want to retain the Wheat Board, but the Prime Minister has said that does not matter and the government is getting rid of it. Now the Prime Minister is allowing only a couple days of debate.

I ask the Minister of Agriculture , why does the government not respect the majority of prairie grain farmers who said they want to retain the Canadian Wheat Board?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I am wondering who really is manipulating prairie farmers when I look across at the third party down at the end over there. Those members do not represent any farmers at all. Even the member for Wascana has 11 rural polls which the Conservative candidate won in that particular area.

We were very open in our campaign regarding an open and accountable Canadian Wheat Board, something different, something new, something similar to what there is in Ontario, following the Australian model where we saw freedom reign. Farmers are doing better.

The member also talked about small farms. Those same small farms grow canola and other special crops and are doing extremely well with those. Even when we talk to someone like Nettie Wiebe, who is the former president of the NFU, she tells us that canola is grown on her farm because a cash crop is needed. If the Wheat Board is giving farmers a premium price and doing such a great job, why do they need another cash crop? In fact, canola has surpassed wheat in its value on the Prairies.

If the member is serious about debating, he should stop playing tricks with this and let us debate.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today in the House as member of Parliament for LaSalle—Émard.

I would like to note that, since May 2, there have been many of these requests to limit debate. I remind my hon. government colleagues that as a member of Parliament elected by my constituents in LaSalle—Émard, I have just as much a right to be heard as members on the government side. Their recent requests limit my right to represent my constituents.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I guess my argument would stand from the former questions. If those members are so concerned about having time to debate, why are we seeing silly motions to adjourn the debate which they supported? If they are really serious about moving forward and having a good fulsome debate, I am here and I am ready to do it. However, when we have to use valuable parliamentary time to come in and vote down a motion to adjourn the debate on the very first day of debate, and members scream that they want more debate, it is more than hypocritical.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, I find this disturbing. In my view, time allocation should be used for pressing issues of pan-Canadian interests. This appears to be a regional interest for western farmers.

The Wheat Board has been with us for 91 years. I could see a time allocation motion being worthy if there were unanimity among western farmers for the changes to the board, but from what I have heard in the House, even among western farmers there is not agreement about changes to the Canadian Wheat Board. Since there appears to be no unanimity in this region, why is the government trying to close debate at this time?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I am not sure where the member opposite gets the time of 91 years. I know that for a lot of us, it seems longer than that, but the reality is it was brought in as mandatory in 1943 under the War Measures Act.

I do agree with him that it is a regional interest, absolutely. That is why I find it almost untenable when all these members from outside western Canada preach to us and tell us how we should run our farming enterprises. I am a farmer myself, and there are a lot of farmers on the benches here that still have farming interests and still have families tilling the soil. They are all asking for a reasonable request, that they have the same rights and privileges as farmers in Ontario do. I do not think that is out of line at all.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope it is not the position of the government of the day that the only people who are allowed to have an opinion with respect to the Wheat Board are the people who agree with the government.

The fact of the matter is when the minister stands in his place and asserts that there is unanimity among western farmers with respect to the future of the Wheat Board, that is a preposterous statement.

I would hope that the minister would at least have the decency to recognize that western farmers themselves had a vote. They had a vote because the government was not willing to have a vote. They had a vote because the government was not willing to follow the law. We then have the Prime Minister of the country saying on October 7 in the Globe and Mail:

It’s time for the wheat board and others who have been standing in the way to realize that this train is barrelling down a prairie track.

What the government of the day is saying is that the Conservatives are going to railroad the western farmers. They are going to railroad anybody who does not agree with them, and they are going to railroad the House of Commons for the fourth time in 25 days.

That is what the government has become all about, a government that simply says, “It is our way or the railroad”, and it is the railroad that it is driving and it is not--

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I will try to limit questions and comments to about a minute, because I see many people rising.

The hon. Minister of Agriculture.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, the main tenet of democracy is having one's say, not necessarily having one's way, no matter how loud one screams.

At the end of the day, even the Wheat Board admitted that the so-called plebiscite was a non-binding referendum.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

They had no choice.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Just a minute, Bob. Hang on. You had your turn.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I think the hon. minister knows that he should direct his comments through the chair.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

I am happy to do that, Madam Speaker. At least you are balanced.

The Wheat Board itself, in its spring edition that it puts out quarterly, did a non-binding referendum of farmers across western Canada, and when it offered the idea of a dual market, there was tremendous response for that. We will honour that as well.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, the Medicine Hat riding is a huge rural area. About half of the population is rural, and there are all types of farmers and products.

Could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell the House why we need to pass this legislation immediately for the benefit of funding for research in western Canada?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, innovation has been a main tenet of agriculture in western Canada. We have developed things like zero till and moved forward with a number of different entities in everything but the Wheat Board commodities.

Having said that, there has been a check off in place for years through the Wheat Board to fund valuable organizations like the Canadian International Grains Institute, the Western Grains Research Foundation and the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre, and we will continue to do that.

We will move to a point of sale, gathered in and administered by Agriculture Canada in the short term until we find someone to take over that valuable resource and asset.

There can never be enough funding for science and research. We will continue to do that check off and make sure the money flows to those organizations that do such a great job.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a press release from Allen Oberg, chairman of the CWB governing board of directors. He said:

This is not about putting farmers in the drivers' seat--it's about throwing us under the bus, and handing the steering wheel to huge American and European multinationals that control the world's grain trade.

I am just wondering if the minister could answer two simple questions. Can he guarantee that farmers will not lose their land to big conglomerate? Can he confirm that they will be appointing their own appointees to the Wheat Board, as opposed to having the farmers themselves who have been doing this for years?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, the exact purpose of this in the end is to have farmers take 100% control of this. That is why we are giving the new entity up to five years to adapt to and bring forward a program that puts farmers in the driver's seat, absolutely.

The problem that the Wheat Board is encountering is that it becomes a price taker. Over the last short time it has lost 50% of the wheat volume. It has lost 40% of the barley volume.

The quality consistency is still there because of the great job western Canadian farmers do, and in using entities like the Grain Commission for blending and so on. We are still putting out that top quality product. We need more of it, not less.