Members of Parliament won’t be having a debate on the sale of the former Canadian Wheat Board anytime soon.
Andrew Scheer, speaker of the House of Commons, on Monday rejected the request from Pat Martin, the New Democrats’ MP for Winnipeg Centre, for an emergency debate on CWB’s planned sale of a 50.1 per cent stake to a joint Canadian venture of U.S. agrifood firm Bunge and Saudi Arabian ag investment firm SALIC.
Bunge and SALIC are “paying nothing for the Wheat Board and its assets except for a promise to invest in their own company at some later date,” Martin said in speaking to his request in the Commons on Monday.
He also noted CWB’s rejection last fall of a proposal from Genesis Grain and Fertilizer LP, a new organization planned by crop input buying group Farmers of North America (FNA) and sister company AgraCity.
The Bunge/SALIC joint venture, G3 Global Grain Group, is to pay $250 million to CWB for its stake, plus an option effective in 2022 to buy the remaining 49.9 per cent stake for “market value” from a farmer-held trust.
MPs “have not had the opportunity for the examination, the scrutiny, the oversight and the due diligence of this preposterous disposal of assets as is our right, our obligation and duty as parliamentarians,” said Martin, whose riding includes CWB’s downtown head office.
The Commons had just resumed sitting Monday after adjournment on April 2.
Martin, speaking in the Commons, had said the matter qualified as an emergency “because the impact on this important strategic industry will be permanent and irreversible if this corporate giveaway is allowed to proceed further,” Martin said.
Martin had also urged Scheer to allow the debate starting Monday, so Prairie farmers “can know what time-sensitive options are open to them both in terms of the sale itself and how that might affect the business decisions they must make right now about spring planting and planning their crops in the future.”
Canadians, he added, “have a right to know why their government would give away the assets of this great Canadian institution to foreign interests for nothing except a promissory note that the company will invest in itself at some future date.”
Martin also asked how farmers can expect a higher price for their grain from a G3-controlled CWB, noting Bunge’s 2014 earnings and CEO salary.
He also called out the “bizarre irony” of a Conservative government “openly hostile to the concept of state-owned enterprises in Canada” but “allowing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a major partner in the takeover” of CWB.
Scheer, the MP for the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle, replied by thanking Martin for “raising the issue” of the CWB sale, but said he’s “not sure that it rises to the level of need for an emergency debate.”
Scheer also noted Monday was booked as a “supply day” — that is, a session devoted to legislation and debate on government expenditures — but “I am sure there will be other opportunities to raise questions about the Wheat Board in days to come.” — AGCanada.com Network