By Bill Nicholson
April 15, 2011

Only weeks after declaring that the Harper government respects farmers’ decision to support the Canadian Wheat Board single desk (Minnedosa Ag Forum), Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz now says (Canadian Federation of
Agriculture debate) that the Conservatives will give farmers “freedom” to market outside the CWB whether they want it or not.

His party’s platform ignores the principle that it is farmers’ decision to make, as it was in Ontario to end their single desk and in Quebec to create one. That the Conservatives have reverted to their anti-CWB form comes as no surprise. Stephen Harper’s hatred for the CWB dates back to his National Citizens Coalition days. His government has employed numerous tactics, some illegal, all unsavoury, to attack the CWB and he vowed to walk over anyone
standing in the way. Walking over farmers’ right to determine the mandate of the CWB would be easily done by a Harper majority government.

The “freedom” Harper and Ritz offer is an illusion. The Ontario wheat board has virtually disappeared. Two years after losing its single desk the Australian Wheat Board no longer exists, absorbed by Cargill. The choice farmers would have is which multi-national grain company they would prefer to take advantage of them. The majority of prairie farmers understand the real choice and have strongly supported the CWB single desk in seven consecutive director elections. Farmers and indeed all Canadians deserve a government that respects the will of the people.

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