I am getting a little heckling from someone across the way. He does not like the fact that we are moving ahead and giving farmers choice. He would like to keep them, as I said earlier, in an antiquated system that allows them no choice. Somehow he thinks that would bring them prosperity and we know that is not true.
The board of directors actually had an opportunity to step forward and say, “We're going to work with the government. We realize you've had a long-time promise, a long-time commitment to bring marketing freedom to western Canadian farmers. We understand that you're going to do that and so we're going to join with you. We're going to stand alongside you so that western Canadian farmers can get the best deal out of these changes that they possibly can”.
What did they do? Instead they took the position and said, “We're going to fight at every turn to stop this. We're going to make sure that it doesn't go ahead”.
They went so far as to come down here to meet with the opposition and say them, “We want you to disrupt this bill permanently. We want you to drag this out so that by the time the government is able to implement, it destroys the markets for western Canadian farmers”.
What kind of responsibility is that? These are folks who were supposed to be marketing western Canadian grain. However, they come down here and tell my colleague from Winnipeg Centre that he should be trying to disrupt things for as long as possible, so that when I go to deliver my grain, and the farmers who are so much a part of what we are doing here today go to deliver their grain, the markets would be destroyed for them. We do not need that. This is why we have made the changes that we are making in the act.
We are going to bring forward a voluntary Canadian Wheat Board. We are going to set it up so that it has the opportunity to be successful for farmers. It is going to have government backing in terms of its payments and borrowing. We believe that other companies are going to come to the board and say, “This looks like a very useful way for us to participate with you in the pooling of grain”.
We believe that passage of the bill would give farmers the certainty they need to plan their businesses for the coming year. We need this passed quickly so that beginning in January they can do that.
This bill would give customers here at home and around the world the assurance that they can continue to count on a supply of high quality Canadian wheat and barley. The legislation delivers on our long-time commitment to western Canadian farmers to give them the marketing freedom that they deserve.
I encourage members opposite to join with us to ensure the swift passage of the legislation both here in the House and in the Senate, so that we can give western Canadian farmers the freedom and stability that they so richly deserve.