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House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to submit a petition signed by hundreds of western Canadian grain and barley farmers concerned with the government's ideological plan to kill the Canadian Wheat Board without first holding a plebiscite of its membership as it is required to do by section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act. Western Canadian farmers' livelihoods are at risk should they lose the clout of the Canadian Wheat Board to set the best prices for their grain, negotiate fair treatment from the railways and lower transportation costs, which are among the many services it provides. The petitioners demand that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food honour their wishes as expressed democratically through a plebiscite.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a petition of behalf of Canadians who are concerned about the funding CBC receives from the federal government. The petitioners ask the House to create a level playing field and cut the advantage CBC has over its competitors.

Multiple SclerosisPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition regarding chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI. There is a long history of abnormal vasculature in MS, which was described by Cruveilhier in 1839 and later by other researchers, including von Rindfleisch in 1863 and Putnam in 1937. There is extensive literature examining such areas as venous stenosis, cerebral hydrodynamics and venous hypertension, inflammation and cerebral plaques, vascular damage to nerves and reduced perfusion. The petitioners call for the Minister of Health to consult experts actively engaged in diagnosis and treatment of CCSVI to undertake phase III clinical trials on an urgent basis in multiple centres across Canada and to require follow-up care.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition regarding the atmospheric ozone layer, which is critical to life on earth. We need both upper- and lower-level monitoring using both Brewer methodology and ozonesondes. A senior Environment Canada bureaucrat who publicly defended the federal government's plan to cut funding and eliminate redundancy within the country's ozone monitoring programs privately approved a briefing note that concluded there was in fact no duplication in the network.

The petitioners call upon the Minister of the Environment to develop a plan to ensure the integrity of the ozone monitoring program and to commission a report to assess the adequacy of Canadian contributions to the global observing system for climate in support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to submit a number of petitions signed by Western Canadian grain and barley farmers concerned with the government's ideological plan to kill the Canadian Wheat Board without first holding a plebiscite of its membership as required by section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act. Clearly the minister was afraid to hold a vote because he knew he would lose it, just as pro-single desk farmers won every board of directors election.

Western Canadian farmers' livelihoods are at risk should they lose the clout of the Canadian Wheat Board to set the best price for their grain, negotiate fair settlement from the railways and lower transportation costs, which are among the many services it provides.

The petitioners demand the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food honour their wishes as expressed democratically through a plebiscite.

Republic of the Fiji IslandsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to present a petition signed by hundreds of people from all over British Columbia calling for the establishment of a high commission in the Republic of Fiji Islands.

The Republic of the Fiji Islands is a member of the Commonwealth. Canada has a very active Fijian Canadian population numbering 100,000 strong. It is a very active population that travels for business and tourist reasons back to Fiji. As the petitioners point out in this petition, the current situation causes inordinate delay and inefficient service for tourist, visa, business and immigration issues for both Canadian and Fijian citizens.

The petitioners note that the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China and India, among other countries, all have embassies or high commissions in Fiji and that this is an overdue service for Canadians of Fijian decent.

I would also like to thank Vince Sharma, who has done a great job in collecting these signatures from all over British Columbia.

Transportation in LabradorPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I present this petition on behalf of many residents in Labrador, primarily in Mary's Harbour and Forteau.

They call on the federal government to fund the Trans-Labrador Highway, as it is a vital transportation lifeline for Labrador communities. It provides access to generate economic activity and to obtain health care and all other pertinent public services. In particular, they are calling for more funding to provide for much-needed improvements to the highway, including phases two and three of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Advertising FlyersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by about 100 residents of Saskatoon. They call upon Parliament to request that the federal Minister of the Environment consider bringing in legislation to require all unsolicited admail and flyers to be produced using easily recyclable hemp paper; phasing in of the use of only hemp paper in the production of all flyers; and, especially in the distribution of flyers, compliance with all “no flyers” signs at private residences at all times, with the exception of election material during elections and material from charities and local community events.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.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

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.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 one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of the order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I would invite members who wish to participate in the question period to rise in their place so that the Chair could have a certain idea of how many people would like to participate so we can adequately allocate the time.

If we keep questions to about a minute and answers to about a minute, we could accommodate more members. The opposition members will get preference from the Chair, although the Chair will recognize some members of the government.

The hon. member for Windsor--Tecumseh.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I am getting really good at this. This is the eighth time in this session of Parliament; there was one before the summer break, and now there have been seven more since September. The Conservatives are clearly going to break the former Liberal government's record, as I am sure has been their intention.

However, it took the Liberal government 122 sitting days to use time allocation and closure nine times. The Conservatives are at eight now. We can see, given the legislation still coming, that they are going to break the record in roughly 40 to 45 days; after that, they will probably set all-time records forever and ever.

I have here several pieces of paper that contain extensive quotes from members of the government as well as from current and former cabinet members of the government. I think I have about 15 quotes. In each one of them, the Liberal administration through the 1990s and the early 2000s is castigated for using time allocation and closure. It shows a very high level of hypocritical conduct on the part of the government to try to justify using time allocation when historically it has criticized other governments so many times for doing so.

I wonder how the government House leader can possibly justify the Conservatives' conduct, especially on a bill as important as this one.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, it is precisely because the bill is so important that we need to move it through. The industry, farmers and consumers around the world need certainty and clarity that the bill is going to pass. They need to start preparing for next spring's planting. All of the inputs went into the fall rotation already. They are getting ready to own the product, finally, that they are going to put in the ground. It is all about certainty and clarity. We make no apologies for expediting this bill to ensure that farmers, processors and shipping industries will be able to count on the changes that are coming.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I think many Canadians would be shocked to see what the government is doing. Throughout the debate on Bill C-18, in fact there has been a lack of debate and a lack of interest from the government to actually listen to farmers by allowing them to vote.

However, what is most shocking about the Conservatives' motion for closure today is that in the past they themselves, including the Prime Minister, have spoken against the very tactics they are using today to stop debate, muzzle Canadians and prevent hearing the real questions that they have to hear.

If I may, I will quote the Prime Minister. In 2002, he stated:

We have closure today precisely because there is no deadline and there are no plans. Instead of having deadlines, plans and goals, we must insist on moving forward because the government is simply increasingly embarrassed by the state of the debate and it needs to move on.

How applicable is it today?

I represent the people of Churchill. They know that there is no plan for the money that has been committed to their community. We would like to know the details on the jobs that people are afraid of losing. What about farmers who are worried about what is going to happen over the next six months and, when it comes to young farmers, over their lifetimes? Where are the plans? There are none. The government, to boot, is willing to stop Canadians from being heard.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I wish the member well in her NDP leadership aspirations. I know we all look forward to the day she will be sitting in the front row.

That said, we certainly do have a deadline. It is August 1, 2012. That is the beginning of the next crop year. Farmers are well versed in what that means to them in moving forward into marketing their own wheat, durum and barley. They are looking forward to it.

When it comes to a plan, we have certainly outlined that plan. Farmers, the industry itself--I met with the grain symposium group here yesterday--and everybody from the farm gate right through to port and beyond, as well as some of the sellers from around the world, are excited by this. Last night the only people missing to hear the positive message we are getting from the full industry as to what is required were representatives from the opposition.

The full indistry says we are on the right track. We will work with them to flesh out some of the other details that are required moving forward. However, the basic road map, the plan, is there, including the plan for Churchill. Often I have stood in question period and explained to the member opposite, and I will say it very slowly, that it is $5 million a year for five years to give them exactly what they have now.

The mayor of Churchill, Mike Spence, is saying this is fantastic; he says there are challenges, but that the bill gives them the opportunity to look ahead and start to diversify the Port of Churchill to build a solid future. He is on board with us. I am not sure why his MP is not.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, the whole issue around Bill C-18 is almost unbelievable, the invoking of closure and shutting down debate.

First of all, farmers thought they had the right to a plebiscite under section 47(1). The government denied them that right by bringing in new legislation that basically destroyed the right to a vote. Then it prevented farmers from having a voice by putting closure on the hearings and limiting debate at the legislative committee to five minutes per clause.

That goes against everything we believe in a democracy. People should be able to speak. There should be hearings on the bill in western Canada so farmers can have a voice. In fact, we have a minister that I maintain has violated his oath of office in terms of how he has approached this particular bill.

There are lots of issues here. There are producer cars and short-line rails that the minister has not offered any answers on. How is the grain car allocation going to work to get grain into the ships on time without the Wheat Board?

None of those questions have been answered. This closure motion denies the right to have those issues debated in the House, where they should be debated.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, what the member for Malpeque has always done well is seed dissent. He was very good at that when he was leading the NFU and nothing really has changed.

On some of the issues that he talks about, of course, the basic tenet of democracy is having one's say, not necessarily having one's way. Certainly everybody has had their say on this for decades. I have not heard anything new in this debate, absolutely nothing, in the last 10 days, 10 weeks, 10 years.

When the member talks about producer cars, he should know, and farmers out there understand, that these are guaranteed under the Canada Grain Act. They are administered by the Canadian Grain Commission. That is not going to change. If farmers decide they want to use a producer car, they will phone the same number they always did. They will fill it with their own product and ship it to port. Mission Terminal has facilities in both Thunder Bay and Vancouver. It is now buying close to 50% of the producer cars. It is using producer cars as its bricks and mortar on the Prairies.

When it comes to short-line rail, one of our short-line rails in central Saskatchewan should triple in size seeing there is huge potential for it to do more.

When it comes to grain logistics, the same folks who load canola and ship it through the system will now be able to do that exact same thing with their wheat, durum and barley. They know how to do it. They do not need advice from the member from Prince Edward Island.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, one question farmers in my riding have asked me is, what it is they need to know between now and when marketing freedom comes into effect on August 1, 2012. They want to know because they need market certainty and they need to make economic decisions in the new year before planting begins.

I tell producers in my riding that they would be able to forward contract wheat and barley sales for delivery after August 1, 2012. I tell them that grain companies, end users and the Canadian Wheat Board would be able to offer farmers contracts for delivery after August 1, 2012. I also tell them they would be able to buy and sell futures contracts on wheat and barley with delivery dates after August 1, 2012. The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange has announced plans to offer new Canadian wheat and durum contracts if the legislation is passed. I also tell producers in my riding that they would be able to deliver grain in storage for later sale to the CWB before August 1, 2012.

Could the minister tell the House, if the bill is not passed immediately, what the economic impact would be for farmers?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, the short answer is that it would have a very negative impact on farmers.

Farmers in western Canada have been marketers extraordinaire when it comes to the world stage and domestic use. Right now they are denied a choice in where and how they market, the timing and price, the ability to pick at their best bottom line advantage.

What the member for Yorkton—Melville outlined is absolutely true. As soon as this bill receives royal assent, futures and contracting will begin to take place for delivery after August 1, 2012, including the new Canadian wheat board entity, which will be there. The choice will be up to the farmer whether he or she wants to market through the existing Canadian wheat board structure or on his or her own.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, what is being denied farmers right now is a choice and a voice for everybody who wants to defend it right now.

I am sorry, but I simply cannot believe that the government is presenting another time allocation motion. I cannot believe that it wants to shove this down our throats again.

I want to read another quote.

For the government to bring in closure and time allocation is wrong. It sends out the wrong message to the people of Canada. It tells the people of Canada that the government is afraid of debate, afraid of discussion and afraid of publicly justifying the steps it has taken.

It was the Minister of Public Safety who said that.

How can the government tell us once again that we are not entitled to represent people who have concerns, who are wondering how this could be happening and who do not agree with the measures the government wants to take? It is our job to defend them and speak on their behalf. Once again, the government is silencing us. It is not worried about people, farmers or the decision the farmers have made. It is denying them the right to vote on this issue and that is the end of it. I cannot understand that. It is completely unacceptable.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Certainly, Madam Speaker, everyone has a right to speak in this place, and of course the hon. member just exercised that right. However, rather than actually bringing forward an issue that farmers may want to talk about, she just did a little rant about her own personal space being violated.

Certainly we identify with that and we take that to heart, but at the end of the day, we put our strength and effort on this role by and in place of the farmers who will be affected. That is who we represent.

There are a number of us who have our roots in the farming community. Our families and our friends are still there. When I want to talk to farmers, whether I give them a vote or not, all I have to do is go home on the weekend and drive down my road. I can talk to any farmer I want to at any time. Without exception they are telling me to get this done. We need certainty. We need clarity. We need to move on. We need to look at the future. We need the same rights and privileges as farmers have in the rest of Canada.

Why does the opposition want to hold back western Canadian farmers? That is the part I find untenable.

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, what confounds me is that the minister pledged in March, before the election, that he would not act arbitrarily, that he would listen to farmers. He said it in Minnedosa. It was reported in the Manitoba Cooperator. What did he do? As soon as the election went by and the Conservatives received 39% of the vote--that is it, 39%, which is not a majority of voters--he ignored the farmers. He ignored the very plebiscite the farmers were forced to have of their own, the majority of whom supported the board.

I ask the minister, why the betrayal of farmers who have come from out west, farmers who rely on the Wheat Board? Fragmented, the Wheat Board shall fail, and he continually denies it. Why the betrayal?

Bill C-18--Time Allocation MotionMarketing Freedom for Grain FarmersGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I will limit questions and comments to one minute to give everybody the opportunity to speak.