Directors who support single-desk selling retain the balance of power at the Canadian Wheat Board.
Four of the five directors elected Dec. 12 support single- desk marketing. Four of the five other farmer-elected directors elected two years ago in even-numbered districts also support the single desk. However, it’s widely believed the five government-appointed directors support the federal government’s desire to end the single desk. That leaves the score at eight directors for the single desk and seven opposed.
Just over 41 per cent of the mail-in ballots were returned. Although that’s down from 52.8 per cent in the 2008 election, CWB chair Allen Oberg said it represents a “credible result,” and it is better than the 30 or so per cent response in the last federal byelection.
All incumbents were reelected, with the exception of two districts in which the directors had served the maximum years allowed under the legislation.
District 1 incumbent Henry Vos, who was first elected in 2006 on an anti-single-desk platform, was re-elected on the first ballot with 51 per cent of the votes. But it was a close call in the two-candidate race. Singledesk supporter Dan Gauthier was only 31 votes behind.
Single-desk candidates received 58 per cent of the votes in total, which is consistent with past CWB surveys.
Incumbents and single-desk supporters Allen Oberg and Kyle Korneychuk, were elected in Districts 5 and 7, respectively. Oberg defeated challenger Vicki Dutton on the first pass winning 63.6 per cent of the votes. Korneychuk also won on the first pass with 57.1 per cent of the votes, defeating Terry Youzwa.
Newcomers Stewart Wells and John Sandborn, were elected in Districts 3 and 9.
It took Wells three passes in the preferential ballot to win 54.6 per cent of the votes and defeat Brian Otto with 45.4 per cent of the votes. In the preferential system, voters rank their preference for all candidates. After each pass, candidates who received the least amount of votes are dropped from the ballot and the votes reallocated until one candidate receives 51 per cent.
Two other District 3 candidates – Lynn Jacobson and Brett Meinert – were dropped after the first and second passes.
Although he led all the way, it took two passes for John Sandborn to win 66.4 per cent of the votes defeating Ernie Sirski and Garry Draper.
Sandborn received a total of 1,365 votes, followed by Sirski at 692. Draper received 579 votes on the first pass.
Sirski, Youzwa, Otto and Dutton and Vos all declined to tell theManitoba Co-operator whether they supported single- desk marketing or an open market.
In an interview last month Otto said the real issue isn’t the CWB’s mandate, but its subpar performance.
Oberg disagrees. In an interview Monday he said the board of directors’ stand on the single desk is critical to CWB operations.
“If there were ever to be any moves from the federal government to be successful (in its efforts to end single-desk selling) obviously that would need support from the Canadian Wheat Board, board of directors, so of course it’s an important issue,” he said.
According to post-election news reports, Vos and fellow market-choice District 2 director Jeff Nielsen blame falling wheat and barley acreage in Western Canada on the CWB’s single desk.
Oberg said noted wheat and barley acres have fallen in the United States too, which does not have a wheat board.
Wheat plantings in the U.S. dropped by nearly 30 million acres, or nearly one-third from its peak in 1981, for two reasons, according to the United States Department of Agriculture:
“First is declining returns relative to other crops, stemming in large part from foreign competition. Second is the availability of alternative options under government programs.”
Barley plantings this year in the U.S. were the lowest since 1913.
Western Canadian Wheat Growers policy manager Blair Rutter said it is not if, but when an open market comes to Western Canada as older farmers leave the scene.
“Whether it’s one year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, the debate is only about the time period. It will happen.” [email protected]
2010 Canadian Wheat Board Electionof DirectorsDETAILED FINAL RESULTS
LynnL. Jacobson 390
Brett L. Meinert 546
Brian J. Otto
Vicki A. Dutton
Allen L. Oberg
Kyle Korneychuk 1,383
Terry V. Youzwa
Garry E. Draper
1ST PASS 2ND PASS 3RD PASS
1ST PASS 2ND PASS
– BLAIR RUTTER