Editor’s note:  The Good News section of the Nov 7 MacLeans Magazine contained the following opinion on our Wheat Board:  “everyone would reap the rewards of an open market.”

Darrell Stokes, a wheat farmer from southern Alberta sends the following response:

I can’t believe that you think that “farmers also stand to gain” when this autocratic (not democratic) government fulfills its right-wing small-c conservative daydream by getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).  Have we not seen enough of deregulated corporate ambition lately?

The rewards of an open market go to the grain companies who can play one farmer off against another.  The boardrooms of the powerful in the grain industry are joyous with this “good news” because they know that they can source their grain from farmers without being held accountable by the Wheat Board.  The malting industry is saying that they will be more competitive, because they will be able to source their barley more cheaply ….  the same message came out of the recent announcement of a phantom pasta plant for Regina.

Who do you suppose gets less for their product, when the industry can buy it for less?  Is it those farmers that you naively intimate “will stand to gain”?

The prosperity of Western Canada stems in large measure from co-operative effort, a concept anathema to the current government’s ideology.  The CWB is one of the few remaining co-operative enterprises that returns great value to the Prairie economy.  Price-Waterhouse-Coopers estimates that value to be in the neighbourhood of $850 million per year.

Bill C-18 will destroy 75 years worth of hard-won respect and integrity by abolishing the democratic rights of farmers to run their own marketing agency.  That’s right.  They are abolishing the farmer-elected Board positions and installing their own mouthpieces in their place.  Bear in mind that the CWB is not a government-run agency and is not subsidized with taxpayers’ money.

It does, however, rely on the Wheat Board Act to be the only source of western Canadian Wheat, Durum and Barley for export and domestic human consumption.  It needs legislative authority to require grain companies and railways to move Wheat Board grains to overseas customers.  All of this is being systematically destroyed, without a vote, which was guaranteed by the Wheat Board Act.  Does this not mean the government is acting illegally?

Is there a responsible journalist left in this country willing to take on the government on this issue?  When was the last time you heard of ANY organization pulling the plug on a $6 billion enterprise, handing it to corporate giants for free, without any kind of business plan in place?  When was the last time you heard of a government abolishing democratic institutions because they stood in the way of an ideological campaign?  Isn’t this what we see when we look at countries that have or had totalitarian governments?

This Bill C-18 is being euphemistically called”Marketing Freedom for Farmers” Act.

A more appropriate title might be “Let’s give our $6 billion/year business away for nothing” Act.

Wake up, Canada, and MACLEAN’S before it’s too late.

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