“The best thing I could hope for is that as soon as a person gets a ballot they mark it and send it back.”
– BILL ROSS
Six farmers – four incumbents and two others – are running to fill four directors’ seats around the Manitoba Canola Growers Association’s (MCGA) board table.
The incumbents seeking reelection for a four-year term are Brian Chorney of East Selkirk, Ed Rempel of Starbuck, Ernie Sirski of Dauphin and Wilfred (Butch) Harder.
Eduard Hiebert of St. Francois Xavier and Hugh Drake of Elkhorn are also in the race.
Around 9,000 ballots were to be mailed to MCGA members Nov. 16. Manitoba farmers who have grown, delivered and sold canola commercially and not asked for refund of their MCGA checkoff during the past two years (Sept. 30, 2007 to Sept. 30, 2009) are eligible to vote. Farmers unsure of their membership status can call the MCGA office (204-982-2120).
Ballots must be returned Dec. 10. Ballots will be counted Dec. 11 and the results announced soon after, said MCGA executive director Bill Ross.
“The best thing I could hope for is that as soon as a person gets a ballot they mark it and send it back,” he said.
Traditionally, most of the 1,500 or so returned ballots come back during the first two weeks after they’ve been mailed out, Ross said. It seems if people don’t mark and return their ballot right away, it never gets done.
This will be the first election the MCGA has used a “preferential” ballot similar to that employed by the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). The main difference is the MCGA is electing four directors with one ballot, while in the CWB elections one ballot is used to elect one director.
In elections where one person is being elected the preferential ballot requires the winner to receive 50 per cent of the votes, plus one.
Voters in the MCGA election will be asked to rank their first, second, and third choices and so on, although the minimum requirement is to rank at least one candidate.
“We’re making sure we have a good set of instructions that go with the ballots so everybody understands,” Ross said.
Voters can get more information about the candidates at the MCGA’s website www.mcgacanola.org.
Here’s a summary:
Brian Chorney: A director with the MCGA since 2003 Chorney is currently president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association and a director of the Canola Council of Canada and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association. Chorney graduated from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor of science in agricultural engineering.
Hugh Drake: Drake was elected a director of Manitoba Pool Elevators in 1993 and continued as a director with Agricore and Agricore United until 2007. He was also a Keystone Agricultural Producers delegate for many years. Drake received the Institute of Corporate Director Designation from the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.
Wilfred (Butch) Harder: As a longtime director of Manitoba Pool Elevators Harder served on many affiliates, including XCAN Grain, Western Co-op Fertilizer Ltd., Canadian Co-operative Association. He was also a Canadian Wheat Board director. In addition to sitting on the MCGA board, Harder is a director of the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation.
Eduard Hiebert: Hiebert says in his biography the MCGA is becoming more democratic with the preferential ballot. He notes that canola farmers “bankroll” the MCGA, which focuses on increasing production, but it should also work to increase farmers’ profits. Hiebert is encouraging the majority who don’t vote, to vote for him.
Ed Rempel: Rempel has served as the MCGA’s vice-president and served on the Canola Council of Canada. He has also sat on the MCGA’s biodiesel committee. With China blocking Canadian canola imports, biodiesel is more important than ever, he says. Rempel says he is a strong supporter of a preferential ballot for the MCGA’s election.
Ernie Sirski: On the MCGA board since 1984, Sirski has served as chairman, secretary and treasurer. He has also represented MCGA on the Canola Council of Canada and Canadian Canola Growers Association. Sirski, a zero-till farmer, has a diploma in Agriculture. The MCGA has made strides to give members factual, useful information, he says. [email protected]