The application form farmers use to get a ballot in the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) director elections has been replaced after a flaw was discovered.
Part 1. C of the form says the land listed earlier in the form by an applicant is not listed in the applicant’s CWB permit book. Most of the applicants will in fact have the same land listed in their permits. Many will be applying for a ballot because they are permit book holders, but were removed from the voters’ list under the instructions of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
The error is a classic catch-22; you need to have farmland in the district where the elections are being held, but it can’t be the same land listed in the applicant’s permit book.
National Farmers’ Union president Stewart Wells is concerned some farmers have not submitted their applications wrongly thinking they are ineligible. He wants the revised form mailed to all CWB permit book holders in voting districts.
“Really we have not found that (faulty form) to be a problem,” said CWB election co-ordinator Ian Craven of the accounting firm Meyers Norris Penny. “Obviously farmers don’t want to make false statements. We’ve had farmers simply apply and stroke out the word ‘not’ and we’ve had farmers phone us and that’s what we suggested they do.”
But Wells wonders how many farmers are accustomed to altering a legal document and signing it.
“Our experience in farmers calling us is they haven’t taken it that way,” Craven said. “There’s enough information out there that farmers become pretty comfortable as to whether they are eligible or not. Once they decide they are eligible they are going to fill out the form.”
The revised form will ask farmers to check a box indicating whether the land they list on the form is the same as listed in their permit books.
“All we’re trying to do is receive enough facts to validate their eligibility (to get a ballot),” Craven said.
“It’s just one more test that they produced grains on land in a certain district.”
Wells said the flawed form, along with Ritz’s changes to the voters’ list, further undermines the integrity of the current CWB election.
“This whole election is tainted and the outcome is going to be tainted,” he said. “It’s completely haywire.
“I have a hard time believing we’re calling this country Canada.”