Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Conservatives Killing Off Canadian Institutions: Latest Goodale Weekly Commentary

Another great weekly update from Ralph Goodale. This one focuses on the demise of the CGC and the PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration):


Debate in Parliament last week exposed the Harper government’s undermining of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC).

The Conservatives presented legislation to water-down the CGC’s historic role as the watchdog defending the rights of grain producers, and safeguarding the high quality for which Canadian farmers are renowned around the world.

This bad law (Bill C-13) would diminish regulatory supervision, cut back on inspections and eliminate the need for grain dealers to be bonded. It would also leave the CGC grossly under-funded.

Many farmers have expressed concern about Bill C-13. The Liberal Official Opposition agrees with them, and will stop this Bill in its tracks.

At the same, but in a much less public way, the Conservatives are also ditching another valuable prairie institution – the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA).

Created in 1935 to lead western agriculture out of the "Dirty Thirties", PFRA became the most respected federal agency across the West. It earned that respect through intelligent, user-friendly, hands-on service to farmers and their communities.

Its expertise was second to none for soil conservation, water supply systems (from local wells and dugouts to the Gardiner Dam), pasture management, flood protection (just ask people along the Red River in Manitoba), trees, shelterbelts and ground-cover projects, community economic development, and more.

Internationally, PFRA earned a sterling reputation for reliably delivering Canadian foreign aid to rural areas in poor countries worldwide.

And it always managed to maintain its distinctly western/prairie approach – down to earth, practical, in touch with what really matters, and above all, trusted and effective.

For reasons beyond comprehension, the Harper Conservatives have just killed PFRA as a distinct entity within the Government of Canada. It’s now submerged in some no-name section of the department of Agriculture where it will wither away.

And that’s just plain wrong!

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