Canada's largest and greatest voice for family farms is slowly riding off into the sunset. Ralph Goodale discusses what - if any - recourse Canadian farmers have for this important - farmer-run - organization.
ONLY FARMERS THEMSELVES CAN SAVE THE CWB
When Parliament votes this fall on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board, there’s no doubt that Stephen Harper will get his way. That’s the reality of a majority government.
As a consequence, the CWB’s single-desk marketing system will be destroyed.
The law requires the government to hold a proper democratic plebiscite among prairie grain producers BEFORE introducing any new legislation that would have the effect of killing the single-desk.
But Mr. Harper plans to ignore that law.
His rationale for denying farmers their right to vote is laughable. He says a plebiscite is necessary only for minor tinkering with the single-desk, but by some strange logic, farmers should not get to vote when the government is totally getting rid of it.
Say what? That’s like a doctor saying, if I’m taking out your tonsils, I’ll consult you. But if my proposed operation is euthanasia – to kill you altogether – I won’t bother to ask.
Another nonsensical proposition is the false notion that without its mandate for single-desk marketing, the CWB could survive for those who want to pool their marketing efforts voluntarily.
Voluntary pooling never worked in the early days of the Canadian grains industry. It’s a shambles in Ontario. It failed completely in Australia. And it won’t work here either, after the CWB is gone.
Either you have a single-desk system, or you don’t. And if you don’t, you have the open-market, period. It’s misleading to suggest you can have a bit of both.
That’s why the Harper government has refused to describe how the CWB would function without its single-desk. They know it will just fade away. And that’s exactly what they want.
But is that what farmer’s want?
Only farmers themselves have the political clout to raise enough concern to force a democratic plebiscite.