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LETTERS – for Jan. 8, 2009

Grain Growers of Canada wish list

At this special time of year, the Grain Growers would like to reflect on accomplishments over the past 12 months and look forward to next year.

On the positives, we’d like to recognize the Transport Committees of the House and Senate for their quick work in passing Bill C-8 which has led to the rail service review starting. We’d also like to recognize our trade negotiators who have helped make substantial progress in closing the gaps in Geneva and finally, we’d like to thank the government and Opposition for putting in place the biofuel legislation that has created a strong market for our grains.

In the not so positive column, is CN Rail for implying that because they have to repay some freight charges, they might take their trains and go home. On the CWB file, the pro-choice vote is getting closer to 50 per cent and, at least on barley, it’s time for the CWB to start the discussion on what tools they might need to be an effective force in an open barley

market. Finally the Ontario government must be chastised for implementing a pesticide ban based on quack science.

On the Grain Growers wish list for all farmers this coming year is:

A safe season for them and their families

More resources for public plant breeding, especially in cereals and pulses

A fair rail service review

Science-based decision-making by our regulators

Safety nets that work when needed

The 80,000 Canadian grain, oilseed and pulse producers affiliated with the Grain Growers of Canada hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and would like to wish you a Happy New Year.

Doug Robertson

President Grain Growers of Canada

Wheat Growers’ spin continues

With four out of a possible five Canadian Wheat Board directors elected on a single-desk mandate, you can be sure that the president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) is hopping mad. Her anti-wheat board stance is well known in the farming community. What is a surprise is her rationale why single-desk candidates did so well (“Single-desk support unchanged,” Co-operator, Dec. 11, 2008, page 1). She indicated that essentially the deck was stacked against the open-market candidates because the voters’ list was made by the CWB from the permit book list.

If she knew the facts, she would know that anyone producing grain is eligible to vote, even if they don’t deliver grain to the CWB. She would know that the minister of agriculture, her good friend Gerry Ritz, massaged the voters’ list, making it more difficult for some CWB permit holders to vote while sending personal letters with ballot application forms to non-CWB permit book holders encouraging them to vote. Thus the WCWGA president would appear to be off base in her understanding of voter eligibility and how voters were contacted. In fact, some of Ritz’s buddies – Conservative MPs like David Anderson – used taxpayers’ money to send letters to farmers

telling them to vote specifically for open-market candidates.

And with all of this going on, single-desk candidates were still able to win 80 per cent of the director elections. With the election results so obvious to most, I guess the spin will continue to come from the mouth of the WCWGA president. If she makes any sense is another issue.

Kyle Korneychuk

CWB director, District 7 Pelly, Sask.

Forgive, maybe; forget, no

Michael Ignatieff, the newly minted Liberal leader, has vowed to work hard to reconnect his party with rural and agricultural communities across Canada. He wants the party to reach out and hope that western Canadians forgive and forget the errors the party has made in the past.

For western grain producers, the two most destructive policies forged by past Liberal governments were the removal of the Crow Rate and the privatization of Canadian National Railway (CN). These brought about a massive power shift that greatly favoured the railroads and the

transnational grain companies at the expense of grain producers.

Since then, it has been almost impossible to survive financially on a grain farm. Total farm debt has nearly doubled in Western Canada. Each year a few thousand grain producers are forced out or choose to leave the land and their chosen profession.

Can we, the western Canadian grain producers, forgive and forget? I personally feel I can forgive, but to forget would not be wise. Past actions and performance by the Harper government have clearly shown that there is no hope for salvation in that direction.

Perhaps Michael Ignatieff is sincere about reaching out to western Canadians. I am willing to take that chance. After all, what other real choice do we have?

George Hickie

Waldron, Sask.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or e-mail: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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