These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

CWB Minister Necessary?

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, there are a number of marketing boards operating on behalf of agricultural producers. None of these boards have a minister in the government except for the Canadian Wheat Board.

If the Wheat Board is farmer directed as this government always says that it is, then why do we need a Wheat Board minister? Why not scrap his position and save a few tax dollars?

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, the rationale is fully laid out in the Canadian Wheat Board Act. There are certain powers and provisions there that have to do with financial guarantees and the issuing of export procedures. There is obviously a public interest that needs to be served, and that is why there is a role for the minister.

I would point out to the hon. gentleman that not once since I became minister in 1993 have I ever issued a directive to the Canadian Wheat Board.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Wheat Board minister wrote the legislation for himself. The Wheat Board is not the only government agricultural wreck. The government said that the new agricultural policy plan was a five year plan. We did not think that it meant it would take five years to implement.

Here we are a year and a half later and still nothing for farmers. Last year farmers had to do with second rate farm programs. Now we are less than four months from seeding time and instead of having a plan in place, the government is still fighting with the provinces.

Why has the government been so intransigent and so incompetent in its farm planning that farmers will once again be left with inadequate coverage?

Mr. Larry McCormick (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the questioner for the opportunity to tell the House where the minister is at this moment. Right now in Ottawa the minister is meeting with several farm organizations and producer groups from across the country. We continue to meet with the provinces and territories.

I want to remind my colleague that last year we invested more money in Saskatchewan in a calendar year than we did before. We have given interest free loans for the spring and we will be there in the fall. We have just extended the interest free loans.

This government believes in our farmers, appreciates our farmers and invests in our farmers.