The following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s remarks while at an event in Kindersley, Sask., Aug. 1 to celebrate the government’s victory in eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk.
What a great day this is.
It’s a great day for western Canadian farmers — a great day for all who have fought the good fight. Welcome to grain-marketing freedom day.
Never, never, ever again will western farmers and only western farmers growing their own wheat on their own land be told how they can and can’t market their products…
The fight to end the wheat board’s monopoly was not a fight without cost, without a price being paid by people who had the courage to challenge the injustice of the law by placing themselves in violation of it.
Their acts were purely symbolic of course. They did not riot, they broke no windows, nobody was assaulted, no big profits were collected. No, just a few loads of grain were driven across the border. Sometimes just a token sack of wheat in the back of a pickup truck. In one case, it was the gift of grain to a 4-H club.
But for acts such as these those farmers were charged, they were hauled into court literally in chains, convicted, fined, jailed, threatened, equipment seized, lives were interrupted. But let me be clear about this, these people were not criminals, they were our fellow citizens, who protested injustice by submitting themselves peacefully to the consequences of challenging that injustice. Those consequences are what was wrong and those wrongs we shall address today.
Friends, to the authority of the Crown falls an ancient power, the royal prerogative of mercy. It is a rare and a significant thing for this power to be exercised. Well ladies and gentlemen, today I am pleased to announce that it will be exercised. A group of farmers convicted under the old unjust legislation of the wheat board monopoly will be pardoned by the government.
For these courageous farmers, these convictions will no longer tarnish their good names. Let me just say this to these Canadians — they held firm, their courage of conviction never faltered, and it is to them much of this victory is owed, because it is to them that the consciousness of the country on this issue was really raised. And friends by standing with them and by enabling western farmers to freely market their wheat and barley our government has kept a solemn promise that dates back to the earliest days of our movement.
And so we have given justice to western Canadian grain farmers.