Grain movement hearing produces few results

An emergency meeting of the standing committee on agriculture in Ottawa this afternoon has ended with a decision to meet again March 19.

Parliament is on a two-week break, but four Conservative and NDP committee members who supported farmers’ calls last week for action on the grain backlog forced the meeting.

However, it was mostly a back-and-forth on when to meet and hear from witnesses and to whom letters should be sent asking for action.

Liberal members voted down a motion that would have required transport minister Marc Garneau and agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay to appear.

The committee also couldn’t agree on sending a letter to the Senate, where Bill C-49 is still under debate.

They did however pass a motion to hold a four-hour televised meeting March 19 during which witnesses would be heard.

Saskatchewan Conservative MP Randy Hoback said an order in council from the ministers to get grain moving is essential.

But Liberal members said March 7 letters from the railways indicate they have plans to do just that.

NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau, a former member of the committee, said she was frustrated by the process and said members had a responsibility to farmers to work on their behalf. She questioned how the system could end up in the same situation that led to the 2013-14 backlog and losses of $8 billion.

She said Canada’s reputation is under threat “because we can’t get our shit together.”


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