These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Jailed Farmers

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, right this minute there are four western farmers who have been denied their basic freedoms as Canadians. Jim Chatenay, Bill Moore, Ron Duffy and John Turcado are serving their third week as political prisoners. This is not China, Iraq or North Korea I am talking about; it is Lethbridge, in western Canada. The government jails farmers simply for selling their own grain.

Why does the minister responsible for the Wheat Board believe that western farmers should not have the right to sell their own products to whomever they want?

Mr. Paul Szabo (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in 1996, 13 farmers conducted a protest against the laws of Canada. They went through the legal process fully. Thirteen farmers decided that they would go to prison instead of paying their fines. I am pleased to advise the House that today 10 of those 13 farmers have paid their fines and are home with their families.

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the member should be ashamed of himself.

In Ontario--

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Order. I think some of the language I am hearing may be unparliamentary and we would not want that.

The hon. member for Calgary Northeast has the floor and I know hon. members will want to hear his question.

Mr. Art Hanger: Mr. Speaker, the government should be ashamed of itself.

In Ontario farmers can grow their own wheat and sell it to the highest bidder. Cross the border into Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and they cannot do that; they go to jail instead.

This should be brought to the attention of the Prime Minister to let him answer the question. Will he demand that the minister responsible for the Wheat Board table legislation that would allow farmers to sell their grain freely and set those farmers free?

Mr. Paul Szabo (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wheat Board is highly respected and supported by western Canadian farmers.

There is a process in which the Canadian Wheat Board Act can be not applied. It requires a plebiscite of western Canadian farmers and a recommendation of the board of directors, two-thirds of which are western Canadian grain farmers.

I would also advise that in 1998 the government tried to change the rules to facilitate precisely what the opposition is asking for and they denied it.