The great poet Robbie Burns once observed that he wished some power would give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us.

A couple of weeks ago political blogger and long time Alberta reporter David Climenhaga did just that when he wrote a column   (Grass crime no! Grain crime yes! The inconsistencies of Prime Minister Harper!)  on the hypocrisy of Stephen Harper being tough on crime, except when it came to pardoning lawbreaking malcontents who opposed the farmer-controlled Canadian Wheat Board.

We know that the Harper Cons are busy with other things because the column was not immediately flooded with internet trolls vilifying the author.  However, one lone commentator calling himself ‘Joe Albertan’ did respond negatively with the following:  “It’s always good news to dismantle a union. They serve no purpose but to drive up prices and overpay workers.”

Of course this is exactly why the Canadian Wheat Board was formed by farmers in the first place, to drive up grain prices and avoid exploitation.  Mr. Climenhaga’s response gives us the gift of allowing us to see how many informed urban people see the killing of the Canadian Wheat Board:

“Just to clarify, the Canadian Wheat Board was not a union, although it did allow grain producers to bargain collectively with grain buyers, to the enormous advantage of farmers throughout Western Canada.  The marketing regime now put in place by the Harper Government will be of advantage to a tiny minority of geographically fortunate farmers and the huge disadvantage to many more.  Most will realize this over time but a few quasi-religious market fundamentalists – people like Joe Albertan, I suspect – will see their businesses and their hopes die but never identify their inability to bargain collectively as the cause.  The days of grain farmers in the Canadian West receiving a fair price for their produce are pretty well over, thanks to the Harper Government, and I for one am not enthusiastic about hearing those farmers who supported this government with their votes complain about the fate that is about to befall them.”

In the Robert Burns poem he observes a large black louse crawling across the lace collar of the young lady sitting in front of him in church.  His poem observes that the proud young woman would not be so haughty if she could see herself and her unpleasant visitor.  Many western farmers, now enjoying high grain prices as the result of the drought visited on the United States may not realize until too late that they now have a whole host of parasites from the private trade crawling across their new land and equipment – but many may find their optimistic expansion plans turn to dust as grain prices return to their historic mean along with higher interest rates and the loss of our international market niche.

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