Canadian Wheat Board (C)

Mr. Don Davies: Madam Speaker, I want to bring a personal perspective to this debate. My grandfather, Vincent Varyu, who passed away in 1981, came to this country in 1926 from Hungary. He came pursuant to an immigration plan that encouraged farmers, particularly from Europe, to come to Canada. He landed in Halifax, took a train to the edge of Saskatchewan, walked 26 miles with his brother and came to a quarter section of land on the border of Saskatchewan and Alberta, near Dewberry, Alberta. The deal was that he would get that land if it was cleared within two years. He and his brother cleared that land by hand, got title to it and farmed it from 1926 until he retired in 1960.

My grandfather was a proud Conservative all of his life, but he was an absolute, avid and committed proponent of the Canadian Wheat Board. The reason, as he explained to me, was the protection it gave farmers. He said as a farmer he saw the protection that this board gave.

It is one thing to say that the Conservatives represent the rural ridings in western Canada, but again, those farmers may have voted Conservative on the understanding that they would have a vote on any attempt to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board, which the Conservatives campaigned on. Did the Conservatives, during the campaign, tell the farmers that they would abolish the Canadian Wheat Board without a vote? Because that may have changed the perspective and opinions of those farmers. Many, like my grandfather, supported the Conservatives but did not want the Canadian Wheat Board to go.

Ms. Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, I hear from farmers on this issue because we have spoken out on it. I hear from farmers who want to keep the Wheat Board and I hear from farmers who do not. I hear from farmers who voted Conservative and believed they would have a vote in a plebiscite before the Wheat Board would be dismantled as a single desk system.

We also know that farmers desperately need better rail transit and better transportation routes. We need to think holistically about what farmers need. I do not believe they need Bill C-18.