These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Pooling Accounts

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, last October the minister for the Canadian Wheat Board was informed that the board was illegally taking money from farmers' pooling accounts. It is taking this money to manage and administer national licensing fees which the Wheat Board Act says the government has to pay.

The minister said he was going to refer the matter to “officials and law officers”. It has been six months since the Canadian Alliance raised this issue. What are the results of the minister's investigation and why is this illegal practice continuing?

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I did in fact refer the matter, which was raised by one of the directors of the Canadian Wheat Board, to the board of directors of the board as well as its legal counsel. I asked them to inquire into the matter to see if there was anything to the allegations. I have certainly not been advised to this date that there was anything to substantiate the allegations.

It is after all a matter of the management of the Canadian Wheat Board, which by law is vested in the hands of the directors.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is the board of directors that is breaking the law. The minister in charge of whitewash just cannot get away from that.

In Australia, licensing fees cost $20 million annually. We cannot even guess how much Canadian farmers have been illegally charged because of the lack of transparency at the Wheat Board and the Canadian Wheat Board directors.

Does the minister know how much farmers have been charged? Why is he allowing the Canadian Wheat Board and the board of directors to operate illegally outside of the Canadian Wheat Board Act?

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is nothing at all on the public record to support the allegation that the hon. gentleman has just made. The fact of the matter is that this House created a new governance system for the Canadian Wheat Board. The old system of appointed commissioners is gone. There is a modern, corporate style board of directors, 15 in total, 10 of whom are directly elected by farmers themselves.

The opposition would like to replace the judgment of farmers with the political judgment of the Alliance Party. I would rather rely on farmers.