CWBA presentation to rural Alberta NDP

(April 23, 2017)  A few weeks ago I was invited to the annual general meeting of the Alberta NDP Party’s Rural Caucus to give a 20 minute presentation on issues facing agriculture which you can read here.  The meeting was held in Camrose, Alberta, in the heart of some of the most productive farm land in Alberta.

The audience for this meeting consisted of rural NDP activists and supporters as well as several NDP MLAs from rural ridings, members of the party brass, a couple of “stakeholder relations” people attached to the Premier’s office, and the Minister of Agriculture.

I opened by pointing out that Canadian literature, at least according to some Upper Canadians, is all about the theme of individual “survival” but that the theme of western Canada’s history is one of cooperation and collective prosperity.  That prosperity, I argued, is based on our sovereignty – our collective ownership and control of our grain production.

As said before, you can download and read an annotated version of the presentation by clicking here. It covers the great grain robbery since the CWB was killed, concentration of ownership in global agriculture, and the background to the current moves to privatize the cereals genome being carried out by the residue of the Harper government in Ottawa with help from Alberta Astroturf.

Lest readers assume that the Alberta NDP actually listened to any of this, not even two weeks later Minister Carlier introduced Bill 9 which gives the Alberta Astroturf check-off organizations the right to levy non-refundable production taxes on Alberta’s farmers – giving new meaning to “taxation without representation.” This was met with condemnation by many of the active farmers who are still Alberta NDP party members and by comments on Alberta Politics.

One of the bedrocks of democracy is the secret ballot.  Even in Saskatchewan, behind another kind of Wall, farmers have a secret mail-in ballot for electing their agricultural check-off groups.  Given Bill 9, this is something Alberta farmers can only dream of now.*

This Alberta debacle is further evidence that losing food sovereignty is soon followed by a loss of political sovereignty.

*As of this writing The Alberta Canola Commission, which actually uses a mail in ballot system is the exception among the Alberta check-off commissions. 

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