Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a western Canadian farmer certainly concerned with the future of our grain industry.
The quality of life on western Canadian farms is definitely tied to the power of this unaccountable wheat board. There is a growing dissension with the market status quo on the prairies today.
If the minister were to hold meetings in the west, he would find the people attending would most certainly have different things to say. Our input costs are rising. The end of the Crow drastically increased our transportation costs. Canadian Wheat Board grains are backlogged and plugging the system.
As a result, farm returns are now non-existent. As a result of wheat board policies, we also find that we are not allowed to bring our feed grains and so on into different marketplaces. Interprovincial trade and access to these markets is not there for us.
The hon. member from Manitoba talked about using the port of Churchill. That may also give us cheaper access into the maritimes with our feed grains for their poultry and hog industries. Those types of things are not done now under our wheat board system.
There are many sections and subsections of Bill C-4 that farmers in my riding on both sides of this issue agree are fundamentally wrong, mainly the continuation of the unaccountability to producers of their board.
The cash purchase clause that they are trying to put in through Bill C-4 circumvents the final payment values derived through the pooling system that we have now. The board, as it is shown in Bill C-4, would consist of 15 directors, 10 elected and placed at the discretion of the minister. That is a major point. Four are then appointed by the minister to sit on this board and the president or CEO is appointed on the recommendation of the minister.
All these people are there at the discretion of the minister and can be removed at any time should they go against the minister.
The Canadian Wheat Board also may indemnify from, in layman's terms remove, any legal liability or responsibility for the actions of its employees. This section goes on to say that this also covers the employees' heirs and legal representatives and would cover all costs, charges and expenses included in amounts paid to settle or satisfy a judgment. No one is accountable. This clause certainly protects the board over the producers it serves.
The Canadian Wheat Board annual operations plan will be submitted to the minister and will require his approval before it can be implemented. This certainly would seem to circumvent the elected portion of this board.
For the record I certainly do not oppose the Canadian Wheat Board concept in principle. However, when I see the entrenched lack of accountability of the board in this bill, my constituents, through me, can do nothing but oppose it until it can be amended for a positive impact on the depressed industry we see in western Canada.