Rob Cowan
Swan River, MB
From Manitoba Cooperator.

The recent announcement by the newly elected federal government to strip the Canadian Wheat Board of its single-desk powers is contrary to recent pre-election promises to allow farmers to decide that for themselves through CWB director elections. We can now see these empty election promises to garner support during the federal election.

The actual election promise by Minister Ritz of allowing farmers their say in the CWB indicated they would act democratically in this issue. Now they are going in the opposite direction. This bait-and-switch tactic compromises the integrity by which this newly elected government claimed its majority and flies in the face of democracy.

The Conservative vote did not come from the 2% represented by farmers, but rather the urban vote. Since farmers are only 2% of the federal vote, why did they make the election promise? The western provinces have historically supported the federal conservatives, therefore, why pander to a few western farmers to gain a small share of a measly 2% of the vote?

In comparing the process of CWB director elections and the federal elections, one need only see that the CWB directors are more closely tied to the grassroots level of decision making as they listen and communicate the needs/wants of only the farmers in their district. Without that farmer mandate the federal government is changing the rules by which an individual farmer can associate with an entity such as the CWB, and therefore can be seen as undemocratic.

In a truly democratic process Federal MPs would listen to their constituents who are affected by a policy and communicate their wishes rather than tow the party line. I challenge any MP of any party to vote or make decisions based on what their affected constituents want and not party-based ideology.

The last time a government used its power to change the CWB act, it was at the request of farmers. This time it’s at the request of big companies and industry friendly groups.

The newly-formed majority government may have the power to strip the CWB of its single-desk mandate but it most certainly does not have the right.

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