OTTAWA – The Speaker of the House of Commons rejected a request to have an emergency debate on the pending sale of the Canadian Wheat Board.
Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin, his party’s unofficial critic for the CWB, made his pitch following question period today, but Scheer said the issue doesn’t rise "to the level for the need of an emergency debate."
Martin was hoping to be surprised but was expecting Scheer to say no to his request.
He told Scheer in the House it is not only the right of Parliamentarians to be able to debate such a major sale, it is their duty.
"It is only fair to all parties that this debate be held today," Martin said.
His request comes after last week Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced the government was selling a majority stake in the CWB to G3 Global Grains, a joint venture of the Canadian wing of the American agribusiness firm Bunge Ltd. and Saudi Agriculture and Livestock Investment Company Canada Ltd.
The new company will retain the same name and remain headquartered in Winnipeg. The new partners will get a 50.1 per cent stake in the company in return for an investment of $250 million into the company. It is not a cash deal, and must still be approved by the Competition Bureau.
Farmers who sell to the wheat board will get shares in the company but in seven years G3 Global Grains can buy back those shares at market value.
Martin said the government dismissed a bid that came directly from Canadian last fall, and instead it is giving away this great institution to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a for-profit U.S. agrifood firm.
Scheer told Martin as an MP from Saskatchewan he is familiar with the CWB but said the issue doesn’t require an emergency debate.
There will be other opportunities to ask questions, such as at committee of supply, Scheer said.
The CWB sale is set to be finalized in June.