Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again on Bill C-4 and to deal with the three amendments in Group No. 2. One of them is mine and two are from hon. members of the Reform Party. I promise to be relevant, as relevant as members on the government side have been. I promise not to be boring. I hope that will please the Chair.
I will clarify a couple of points. I do not believe anybody on this side of the House necessarily wants to see the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. It is very important to recognize that. We are simply saying that we have the opportunity to make this the best possible legislation available so that western Canadian producers are able to take advantage of new techniques and new opportunities within legislation. The legislation as put forward does not allow that to happen. It is simply a regurgitation of the existing legislation with some minor amendments.
Usually when legislation is being proposed there is at least one segment of the society affected that would totally support it. I can honestly say the government in its wisdom has alienated just about everyone. There is no one who totally supports the legislation.
I asked a number of witnesses in committee whether the divisiveness among producers in western Canada would stop, whether they would be happy to go forward with the legislation. To a person, including those in support of Bill C-4, they said it would not stop divisiveness, that it would not stop the anger with respect to the controls Bill C-4 would place on producers in western Canada.
I will speak to the three motions put forward in Group No. 2. The first one, the deletion of clause 2, put forward by the hon. member for Peace River, says that the act is binding on Her Majesty in the right of Canada or a province.
I also clarify that when dealing with provinces I do not believe anybody on this side of the House would suggest members of government should not have the opportunity to debate any piece of legislation or to put their opinions forward on any piece of legislation, no matter where they come from. Whether they come from Prince Edward Island or from Vancouver Island, it is very important for elected members of the House to have the opportunity to put forward their opinions.
I hope Canadians realize the legislation affects only producers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and a very small portion of British Columbia. When individuals from Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland or Quebec, my good friends from Quebec, deal with the legislation I would expect them to listen to and understand the views put forth by those people who come forward.
I did not see that happen in committee. I saw people put forward their concerns and their views, but they were not listened to. If they had been listened to, the amendments we are speaking to right now would have passed at committee stage.
It was an opportunity for me to be at a committee hearing for the first time. I actually thought we could include better amendments that would make the legislation workable. It did not happen for the simple reason it was a foregone conclusion. The witnesses were in effect wasting their breath in speaking to us. It would have been nicer if we had listened and taken their concerns under advisement.
The provinces that are being affected should be listened to, the people of those provinces should be listened to and the provincial governments of those provinces should be listened to. Two of the three provincial governments accept the fact that there should be some major changes. One unfortunately decided that the particular legislation should be maintained.
The second motion was spoken to most eloquently by my colleague in the Reform Party. It deals with the contingency clause. It is important for Canadians to understand what it is all about.
There are three pillars to the Canadian Wheat Board. The first pillar is that of pooling. We will get into that a little later when we talk about the options or the opt in and opt out and the opportunity of cash buying. That is not being dealt with in this amendment. It will be dealt with later.
The second pillar of the Canadian Wheat Board is monopoly. We have talked a lot about monopoly purchasing and the selling of one commodity, particularly wheat. We will get into that as well at a later date when considering other amendments.
The third pillar of the Canadian Wheat Board, which is not necessarily a bad one, is that of government guarantees. The reason we have the Canadian Wheat Board is that the federal government guaranteed producers initial payments and adjusted payments.
The reason I mention this is that the contingency fund being proposed in the legislation concerns not only me but producers. The reason it concerns producers is that there is an opportunity for the Canadian Wheat Board and the government to charge producers, whether it be per bushel or per tonne, whether it be $1 or whether it be 10¢. We do not know that yet. That will be struck by the board. It will have the opportunity via a tax to have a contingency fund that could be in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. It could be half a billion dollars if that is the way the Canadian Wheat Board wants to operate.
The danger is that ultimately if there is a contingency fund in those numbers the Canadian Wheat Board or the government could say there is no need for particular guarantees from governments. Guarantees could be funded out of a contingency fund. This is a very serious danger to the existing Canadian Wheat Board and certainly to producers themselves.
There are some advantages and disadvantages, but the majority of people who spoke to us, whether pro or against the Canadian Wheat Board, indicated their desire not to have a contingency fund. I have talked to producers, as have other members on this side of the House, who had serious concerns about the contingency fund.
In this amendment we are saying that the contingency fund should be removed from the legislation and the guarantees of government should simply be put back into place.
The government wants a Canadian Wheat Board which is subject to the controls of government, of its executive officer and of members of the board. If 10 of 15 board members are to be elected it does not mean the Canadian Wheat Board will be accountable to producers. It will still be accountable to the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board. It is written in the legislation that the minister has the final authority and say. We should not be confused by the fact that 10 of 15 members will be accountable.
It should be made a truly elected board by having 15 of the 15 members elected by producers. It could be made a truly democratic process by having the board hire the chief executive officer. That makes sense corporately and has to be done.
My amendment speaks to the exclusion clause. As the member for Peace River indicated, it is a marriage between two clauses, an exclusion clause and an inclusion clause.
In Bill C-72, the predecessor bill, inclusion was never mentioned. Now it is in this bill. When asked at committee why there was an inclusion clause, the answer was simple: if we have exclusion then we have to have inclusion. It was not a good answer.
We asked people who appeared before committee if they would be prepared to give up their exclusion rights to get rid of inclusion. We literally heard from dozens of organizations and only three did not want it. Almost unanimously they said that in order to get rid of inclusion they would give up exclusion.
The motion has been put forward to get rid of exclusion. The motion should pass. We will deal with inclusion when that motion is being debated.