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Trudeau asks, “Why should I sell your wheat?”

Our History: October 2000

The editorial in our October 5, 2000 issue noted the passing of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who had often been criticized for his quote from a 1968 meeting in Winnipeg when he said, “Why should I sell your wheat?” We carried the full text which followed that statement just after he was elected, which was made more as a self-deprecating joke along the lines of, “What does a sandal-wearing lawyer from Quebec know about selling wheat?” Part of what Trudeau went on to say was:

“(The Canadian farmer) is entitled… to as much protection from the Canadian government as other producers get in other countries with whom he has to be in competition… you know these are ways in which the Canadian government can help the problem. But basically unless you take the view that the government should step in and own the farms and hire the farmers, I think we all share the responsibility and we will all have to do the best we can all together.”

The comment about protection for producers was appropriate for the news that week — our front-page story was a request by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture for federal and provincial governments to provide another $1.5 billion to match subsidies in the U.S. and EU.

Grain companies were also struggling — Agricore reported a meagre $1.3 million in earnings and UGG $2.2 million (the two were about to merge), while SaskPool reported a loss of $89.9 million.

Biotech corn was in the news — the U.S. was testing snack foods for the presence of Starlink corn, an unapproved type which had been approved for animal but not human consumption.

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