It seems that the Harper government is bound and determined to undermine the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), even if it has to resort to undemocratic and illegal means to achieve its goal.
The Ottawa Tories fired highly respected CWB chairman Adrian Measner for speaking out against further dismantling the Board’s powers. After holding a flawed plebiscite with an ambiguously worded ballot, the Harper government overstepped its authority by trying to illegally remove the export sale of barley from CWB jurisdiction by regulation. In order to counter the democratically elected majority of Directors who are in favour of retaining the Board’s powers, government appointees on the Board who were not compliant with Harper’s goals have been replaced.
A number of organizations that profess to speak for farmers have been drafted into the fray with a view to making it appear as though farmers themselves favour dismantling the Board. It’s a neat and effective strategy. It involves funding anti-CWB organizations to play the role of apologists. For example, a search of the “Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Government of Canada” website reveals that the Western Barley Growers Association received a federal government grant of a million dollars during the past two years. $500,000 on May 23, 2006 and another $500,000 on June 25, 2007. The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association received $110,000.00 on March 30, 2007. The leaders of both of these organizations are loud and vociferous in their criticism of the Board.
The latest move is the announcement by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, in a February 4, 2008, news release, that he is “committed to introducing legislation” to end the CWB's monopoly over barley.