Well, Stephen Harper and his Tories finally have their longed-for majority. Harper tells us in his victory speech that “we will have to govern well, govern in people’s interest” and that “even as a majority you have to, on an ongoing basis, keep the trust of the population.”
Is that going to be the case in respect to the Canadian Wheat Board? We are told by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz that the majority Conservative government will move to eliminate the single-desk marketing of the CWB – this without a plebiscite, without consulting those most affected by this kind of legislation: the farmers. And this despite the fact that farmers consistently elect a majority of CWB directors who favour the single desk.
Is this democracy? Mr. Ritz claims it is. He says a plebiscite has already been held – it’s called a general election. I beg to disagree. An election involves all Canadians, some of whom have no interest or knowledge of what is involved in the operation of an agricultural enterprise. Is it not fair and right for those who would be most affected by a decision of this kind to have their say on legislation affecting their livelihood and way of life? That would truly be democracy.
Ellen Turbett Winnipeg, Man. Penner, Jim Palliser, to name a few, they will achieve results that are a pleasant surprise. But I’m doubtful.
I’m afraid farmers may realize, after it is gone, that the Canadian Wheat Board with its single desk and its farmer advocacy, was OK after all.
The actual election promise by Minister Ritz of allowing farmers their say in the CWB indicated they would act democratically in this issue. Now they are going in the opposite direction. This bait-and-switch tactic compromises the integrity by which this newly elected government claimed its majority and flies in the face of democracy.
The Conservative vote did not come from the two per cent represented by farmers, but rather the urban vote. Since farmers are only two per cent of the federal vote, why did they make the election promise?
In comparing the process of CWB director elections and the federal elections, one need only see that the CWB directors are more closely tied to the grassroots level of decision- making as they listen and communicate the needs/ wants of only the farmers in their district.
In a truly democratic process, federal MPs would listen to their constituents who are affected by a policy and communicate their wishes rather than toe the party line.
The last time a government used its power to change the CWB Act, it was at the request of farmers. This time it’s at the request of big companies and industry-friendly groups.
The newly-formed majority government may have the power to strip the CWB of its single-desk mandate but it most certainly does not have the right.
Rob Cowan Swan River, Man.
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