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NEWS: Harper moves to shut down the Canadian Wheat Board

Postmedia News reports this evening, “The federal government tabled a bill Tuesday to end the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly, setting the stage for the elimination of a Prairie institution created during the Second World War. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said he wants the bill passed in the House of Commons and Senate by Christmas so that western Canadian farmers can freely sell their wheat and barley on the open market starting Aug. 1, 2012. …Both the New Democratic Party and the Liberals denounced the move… Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton accused the government of capitulating to ‘Big Agra’ while ignoring a recent CWB-run vote in which a majority of farmers favoured keeping the monopoly.”

The Council of Canadians signed a letter of support on September 14 for the National Farmers Union campaign to defend the Canadian Wheat Board. That letter states, “The CWB provides fair, equitable, reliable and cost-effective service to farmers. The existence of the CWB provides stability in uncertain times, and is a foundation of Canada’s grain sector. Ending the single desk authority of the CWB would throw western agriculture into turmoil and would transfer wealth created by Canadian farmers to big private, often foreign-owned grain companies instead of being returned to farmers and spent in their communities.”

The Council has long supported the Canadian Wheat Board. In 2005, a report we produced stated that, “The Government of Canada should maintain the Canadian Wheat Board and supply-management mechanisms that support family farms, protecting them from the prejudiced impact of international trade agreements.” In 2006, we spoke against the threat by then-Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl to fire the Canadian Wheat Board president unless he agreed to an open market for wheat and barley farmers.

The NFU letter also highlights, “Canada’s political system is built on representative democracy. This means that the law, not merely the person in power, is to be respected and followed. The CWB Act is a law made by Parliament, and it contains a clause that requires a farmer vote before any substantive changes are made to the single desk authority. Our current government has stated it is ready to eliminate this requirement, or perhaps repeal the whole Act, in order to avoid such a vote. This is deeply concerning, as it strikes at the heart of our Canadian democracy.”

For the latest news, updates and actions, we encourage you to go to the National Farmers Union website at http://www.nfu.ca/cwb.html.