Are court cases really baseless Mr. Ritz?
It was really quite funny to watch the minister of agriculture strut around in front of his flock at the recent Western Canadian Wheat Growers conference. He used his bully pulpit to call the recent court cases, against his government implementing legislation dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk, baseless.
Like too many bullies, he first sounded arrogant as he said, “we’re still very antagonistic with the eight and the Friends of the Board.” Then he started to sound desperate and almost delusional when he claimed, “this is a done deal folks. No one is going to blink at this point and no one is going to change and no one is going to back off. C-18 is the law of the land.”
At least one federal judge has disagreed. So I’m not sure if he is trying to convince himself, or his boss, Stephen Harper it is a done deal. However, it appears that the Western Grain Elevator Association and even the Western Canadian Wheat Growers are not convinced it is a done deal. They continue to appeal the court rulings and are trying to get intervener status in other cases. Farmers are using their own money to defend our wheat board. However, it would appear the Western Grain Elevator Association and Wheat Growers have no end of money and who knows where that is coming from?
For a minister who was so critical of the CWB spending money on legal cases, he now seems to have no hesitancy in watching his shadow groups blow money in supporting his dirty and illegal work.
If it is a done deal why are these groups so interested in participating in court appearances?
New ag critic networks south of the border
Recently I — along with Lakeside MLA Ralph Eichler and Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon — attended the 11th annual Legislative Agricultural Chairs Summit and the State Agricultural Rural Leaders board meeting in Washington, D.C.
In attendance were elected and government officials from 47 states and eight Canadian provinces. There were also representatives from a number of major commodity groups, including the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Pork Council.
United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and United States Department of Agriculture officials addressed the delegates and fielded questions. Congress and Senate staff presented briefings on major farm issues including the U.S. Farm Bill, which is up for review and renewal.
Other sessions dealt with topics such as food safety, the environment, clean energy, and the urban-rural disconnect.
In attending conferences like this it is abundantly clear that no matter which state or province you are from, the agriculture sector faces similar challenges. However, the industry stakeholders and public policy-makers are also deeply committed to ensuring the industry is sustainable and successful over the longer term.
Agriculture is seen as the one sector of the economy running a positive balance of trade. As the world’s population rises, there will be increased demand for our safe, high-quality food products. Our producers and processors will play a key role in meeting this demand.
As Progressive Conservative agriculture and rural development critic, the networks I build at meetings like these are invaluable as I work on issues of importance related to agriculture and Manitoba’s rural economy. I look forward to your input moving forward.
Progressive Conservative Agriculture Critic
Malting industry now needs federal money
Recently Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz pledged over half a million dollars to develop a “Canadian malt barley brand” (Dec. 9). Imagine that, someone trying to brand Canadian malt barley to command a premium price. It would appear the minister did not know the Canadian Wheat Board has been doing this on behalf of farmers for over 75 years.
This is just a taste of the ironies to come. Farmers had input in the process but now that has been handed over to the malting barley industry groups. It looks like things have barely begun. The big players in this crew can’t even brand on their own and need Ritz’s help. The big boys like to talk big but they need the minister’s money. It will be interesting to see if the minister will provide the trade with money to brand Canadian wheat.
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