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GGC Promotes CWB Voter List Reform

Grain Growers of Canada has proposed to work co-operatively with the Canadian Wheat Board to deal with complaints about the fairness of the agency’s voters’ list.

Richard Phillips, the GGC’s executive director, told the House of Commons’ agriculture committee May 14 that it’s time to end the complaints that come after every election for the board of directors. “They come from the pro-and anti-(CWB) sides.”

CWB chairman Larry Hill told the committee later in the hearing that the board is willing to discuss the issue with GGC.

Only farmers who delivered wheat or barley to the board were eligible to vote in the last election, he said, but people with financial interest in grain production were eligible to apply for ballots.

An expert panel had made some good recommendations several years ago for improving the voters’ list, Phillips said. “We agreed with many of them and the CWB appeared to as well.”

The GGC wants to discuss with the CWB the recommendations on which they can both agree and together take them to the government for implementation.

“We want to see a system that produces a clear, fair election process, not one full of accusations and controversy.”

Hill said if the two sides can agree on the election rules in advance, “that should get producers onside with the results.”

Kevin Bender of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association said his group is unhappy with the voters’ list because many of the people who get ballots “have no economic stake in the industry.”

Bender said 20 per cent of farmers supply 71 per cent of the wheat and barley and they should have a greater say in the board’s operation.

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