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Letters, June 7, 2012

Farmers own CWB assets

Gerry Ritz, once again, attempts to justify the confiscation of the contingency fund and other assets of the Canadian Wheat Board single desk, “Contingency fund not owed to farmers” in the May 31 issue. He is correct in stating that the fund was not generated by the CWB’s “normal” pooling operation — as if that justifies its confiscation by government.

He fails to understand that the generation of the contingency fund is inextricably linked to the single desk and the pools. Under the single desk, all farmers who did business through the CWB were awarded the benefit of the contingency fund as a risk management tool.

Ritz, on the other hand, viewed it as “seed money” for his ill-conceived government-run grain company. He was obviously unwilling, or unable, to persuade Treasury Board that government, not farmers, should provide “seed money” for his grain company.

It should be noted that other farmer assets of the CWB, rail cars, lake freighters, etc. were generated by the pool directly, but that didn’t seem to hinder their confiscation by government.

Ritz’s unethical and illegal action is the reason for the court challenge by the eight former elected directors of the farmer-controlled and -operated single-desk CWB. We are determined to restore farmers’ assets to their rightful owners.

Bill Toews

Kane, Man.

Pasta plant goes kaput

Alliance Grain Traders (AGT) recently announced that its plans to build a pasta-processing plant in Regina in 2012 is officially on hold, at least until next year.

However, AGT’s CEO Murad Al-Katib forgot to mention who will be proceeding with the work on implementation once the time is supposedly right, so is there really any realistic, concrete time frame for construction to start?

AGT said it could buy grain cheaper from farmers once the CWB’s single desk was gone. The single desk is gone in a few weeks and AGT has financing in place courtesy of Farm Credit Canada, so, why is its plant suspended?

The original 2011 announcement had the likes of Stephen Harper’s faithful followers, including Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Sask. Premier Brad Wall, SARM president Dave Merit, Garth Patterson of WGRF and Regina Mayor Pat Fiaco applauding the value-added project. It is hard to believe they didn’t know the plant was hopeless.

Were they just currying favour with Harper or were they jumping gleefully on the bandwagon to avoid Harper’s wrath and retributions?

Will Harper now acknowledge that value-added jobs will not be created once the CWB single desk is scrapped? Will he amend his repeated statements in the House of Commons that pointed specifically to the now non-existent pasta plant as the source of these bountiful jobs?

If he’s a man of his word and has an ounce of integrity, he will. But like the doomed pasta plant, the probability is small.

Kyle Korneychuk

Pelly, Sask.

Checkoff administrator seeks to clarify

Your May 31 cover article, “KAP questions checkoff administrator,” included a subheading that reads: “The Alberta Barley Commission will have the authority to decide who gets farmer funds and how much.”

To clarify, Alberta barley farmers will not have the authority to determine how the checkoff funds of B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan barley and wheat farmers are spent. Rather, the Alberta Barley Commission will simply oversee the collection and distribution of these funds in an efficient manner consistent with our priorities of streamlining administrative costs and optimizing staff time and resources. The commission’s plan is to help ensure that there is a smooth process in place so that the recipient organizations outlined by AAFC have steady, reliable funding in the coming years.

The wording used in the article’s subheading is from the preamble to the regulation. However, it’s the information in the regulatory text itself that the commission will be following when we implement the program. This regulation will be complemented by a contract with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada that will ensure the funds go to the recipient organizations. 

As a grassroots, producer-led organization focused on research and market development, the commission is pleased to be a part of the solution by ensuring the valuable research, market development and technical assistance programs provided by Western Grains Research Foundation, Canadian International Grains Institute and Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre are maintained in the coming years. 

We believe in these organizations and the important work they do.

Lisa Skierka

General Manager

Alberta Barley Commission

Gun owners must still register

Most gun owners in Canada believe that once the long-gun registry is revoked by C-19, everything will return to normal to pre-C-68 days. How wrong it is to think this way.

Killing the long-gun registry has really not changed much in terms of controlling the people who own and use firearms in a peaceful manner. There are an estimated 396,000 possession licences which will expire between now and May of 2013. There’s over 300,000 already expired.

These 396,000 firearm owners will become criminals in the eyes of the law as written in C-68. Let’s remember that C-68 has not been repealed in its entirety, a promise that Harper made over and over again before he became the PM.

In other words, if you own a long gun (registered or unregistered), you must prove that you also have a valid possession licence (PAL or POL), or you have broken the law and could face a fine or jail time for illegal possession of a weapon.

The long gun no longer needs to be registered, but you, the firearm user must be registered.

In Canada, firearm owners are seen as potential criminals and therefore all must be registered, so that the police know where all these potential criminals live. The Harper government will not waive the licence fee as it has in the past. Because of budget shortfall, the Harper government wants to start collecting the $80 fee starting this September estimated to be over $20 million. Some provinces continue to keep backdoor registry information on lawful long-gun owners despite calls from the feds to stop this activity.

This mandatory possession licence will impact the purchase of ammunition, firearms, hunting licences, transportation, storage, etc. So what has changed? Lawful firearm owners continue to be treated worse than criminals.

In my opinion, all firearms laws should be removed from the criminal code. Please call your MP and let him or her know how you feel about this matter.

Inky Mark

Dauphin, Man.

Open letter to Gerry Ritz

I write today on behalf of Farmers’ Markets Canada (FMC), an organization the federal government helped to create in partnership with the provinces, but which is being allowed to collapse for lack of funding. The national initiatives and partnerships, developed to further the viability, growth and prosperity of the Canadian farmers’ market industry, would suffer a huge loss if FMC is forced to close the doors at this critical point. The investment by the Canadian government of $400,000 over the past few years is about to go down the drain just when its programs are beginning to bear fruit.

With an impact in Canadian communities of close to a billion dollars in direct sales, farmers’ markets have an economic multiplier of at least three times that amount. It is also important to recognize that this is one area where we are seeing a return of young people into farming. With the average age of Canadian farmers now sitting at 55 years old it is critical that we invest in any area where young producers are actually able to visualize a viable future in agriculture. Farmers’ markets are also a great way to incubate a small business and support a local economy.

I urge you in the strongest terms possible to enable Farmers’ Markets Canada to continue its important work. Even a small amount of money will allow them to keep the lights on for another year.

Please be assured you will have my full co-operation to move this important issue forward.

Alex Atamanenko

Member of Parliament

B.C. Southern Interior

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