Wise politics to obtain a coveted majority?

  Niagara Falls, Ontario,
Thursday, December 21, 2006
by: Joe Hueglin

The Canadian Wheat Board is marketing the grain of all prairie farmers around the world successfully under the existing one desk system. Steps have been taken to accommodate those who wish to negotiate and sell individually and to encourage value-added processing involving farmers within this structure. (1)

The government is erring in not working with those with whom they share governance ( the farmer elected board members) to further adapt the current system - but rather has committed itself to ending the monopoly and the benefits accruing from it . (2)

The New Government of Canada has been most impolitic in its handling of the issue. It has committed itself to change, yet is seeking to develop the appearance that it is supported in this. Though those able to vote for directors were reduced, four out of five opposing change were still elected. Government appointees


opposed to the change were replaced, but even with the "firing"of Adrian Measner its view is opposed by a majority of the Board.

Agricultural Minister Strahl saying that "People make decisions for all kinds of reasons, but the input that's going to be most valuable as far as changes to the board goes is going to be the plebiscite." (3) is setting the stage for another political negative, should plebiscites support the continuance of the Board as it is and the Harper government proceed anyway.

One New Government Member, Inky Mark, has said publicly he will oppose change. (4) There are overall a score of Government Party M.P.s in Manitoba and Saskatchewan who will have to weigh loyalty to Leader versus constituents' opinion when considering the probabilities of re-election.

All in all hardly wise politics on the part of a government seeking to obtain a majority.



Joe Hueglin

(1) Popularity soars among farmers for CWB market-based options: sign-up increases 600 per cent New CWB programs encourage value-added prairie inititatives
(2) Why does the CWB need a monopoly to sell farmers' grain? Can't this all be done through grain companies?
(3) CTV news Strahl fires president of Canadian Wheat Board December 19, 2006, CTV News

(4) Friesen, Joe, Let farmers decide about wheat board, Tory MP says (pdf) November 11, 2006, Toronto Globe and Mail

Photo credits: Adrian Measner by CP/ Tom Hanson, Chuck Strahl PhotoPC/Fred Chartrand and FTLcomm Yorkton inland terminal


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