Mr. Chair, I thank you for the opportunity once again to address what I addressed earlier in camera.
I am a former chair of this committee. Wayne and I have been on this committee off and on since 1993, so we're nearing 15 years around this table. Over the years we've had agreements and disagreements, and we've had very important decisions made. I think this committee has done great work over the last many years. I've been proud to serve on this committee because I was proud to serve the people who elected me, and they were farmers.
On this issue we're not only talking about farmers but about consumers; all of us as Canadians are involved in this. I have never seen this committee work better on an issue than on this particular issue. I was so looking forward to coming into a meeting today, or two weeks ago, whenever this was going to happen, and being able to sit down and think, with a bit of tweaking here and there, we were going to be able to follow the recommendations as outlined by our person from the department.
And here we are this morning. When I heard the announcement last week in the Prime Minister's own words, he was basically precluding the work of the committee. As referenced by my colleague, never did he mention the committee, the work they were doing. Going forward and having more consultations with the same people or the same kind of people we dealt with--obviously they'd necessarily be the same people--we could conclude we would never find the end number of people we should listen to.
I just felt as a member of Parliament, not myself only but all members on both sides of the table, that our privileges.... And you're going to tell me my privileges weren't violated, but my privilege was violated, in my estimation. Whether your good book tells you that or not isn't really important to me. The fact is that my attitude coming into this morning's meeting has changed as a result of what happened last week.
Mr. Miller speaks about not making this political. Well, it was nothing but political. That's what it was. I would like to think the work this committee does is important, that the recommendations we conclude when we're finished with this report will be reported, and that if guidelines are used in bringing forward these recommendations that they be done quickly and that there be due credit given to the people around this table. I'm not looking for credit for myself; this is for Canadians. Canadians have told all of us that we need to move forward on this file, and we've done that.
Mr. Chair, you have done a good job of leading this committee on this issue, and I commend you for it. I just feel the work we have done has been violated by what the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture did last week. As others have said, it was simply for political purposes. I feel that unless this changes, this committee cannot function with the same kind of cordiality we have enjoyed around this table. While we've had our differences, I think that's what this is all about. But again we were able to have good work done here, and that's what this committee is all about.
I would encourage you, Mr. Chair, that when this work is finished, if you think it's worthy of us going forward, that the Prime Minister and the minister be made aware that these recommendations had better be a big part of what goes forward in terms of the guidelines, regardless of what he hears in those consultations in the 21 days going forward. This is where the work was done. We were commissioned to do this work. We've done our work. I want to see the work conclude in such a way that Canadians recognize that government is working for them, not just the politicians.