Western Producer
Bernard Von Tettenborn;
Round Hill, Alta

The prairie wheat marketing system is a mess that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government created.

Harper, while he was head of the National Citizens Coalition, stated that the old Canadian Wheat Board had to go.  The multinationals must have reached him, as he never raised a kernel of wheat and tried to transport it or sell it.

There are several points to look at in his handling of the former CWB.

The dismantling of the CWB without a plan for something to take over the function that the former CWB performed. A) a strong entity to work with the railroad companies; B) a system whereby the right grade of wheat was ordered to be hauled to match sales; C) a fair system where the money from sales went back to the farmers.

Harper thought the free market would look after the sales of crops, but he forgot the greed ethic of free marketers — they all wanted to get their own grain to market and we saw the result of that in 2013-14, and again in 2014-15, whereby the bases were so high that it resulted in the biggest transfer of wealth from the Prairies to the multinationals so far.

The original date for shutting down the CWB was supposed to be 2017. What happened? (Nov 10, 2014 WP). The new CWB’s Dayna Spiring stated that CWB isn’t for sale, they are just looking for a partner to take the government’s place, but they are giving it away for a promise that the new owners will invest $250 million in new facilities. Will it happen? And how come so little? The former CWB was worth a lot more than that.

They also have been giving farmers a $500 share for every tonne of wheat delivered, but the farm sector is to have only 49 percent of the equity and shares. That gives them no say.

We have been told that the new owners will decided down the road what to do with the farmer equity. It looks like the government is trying to get another large lump of money from the prairie agriculture sector.

It looks like Harper called the election so early so that the other parties couldn’t get contributions after the dropping of the writ, whereas the Conservative party had been able to call in a lot of money from the multinationals in recognition for what the government had done for them.

A letter was published (Aug. 13, 2015 WP) with a quote that the loss to the prairie economy from wheat sales in 2013-14 was $3 billion and the 2014-15 loss was more than $2 billion. This is due to the bungling of the free marketers. The system needs regulation.

Harper is trying to get re-elected by creating an atmosphere of fear of what would happen if any other party came to power. For what he and agriculture minister Gerry Ritz have done for the prairie economy, the prairie agricultural sector should vote A.B.C.

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