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Canadian Wheat Board in Peril

From August 27, 2008

One of the first targets of the new Conservative Government was the Canadian Wheat Board. Most farmers don't want this to happen.

Says Ken Sigurdson, "U.S. agribusiness wants to 'integrate' Canada's grain industry with their own, and cherry-pick our prime production. Without the Wheat Board, the big grain companies would totally take over. Farmers would be just contract growers, restricted to the company's varieties, their chemicals, their prices and conditions."

Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl started the ball rolling, saying that his government would not be bound by the Canadian Wheat Board Act. The act rules out any changes to the marketing of grain that is not supported by the grain producers. His next act would be to take away the voice of the CWB by imposing a gag order. Strahl followed this by removing two CWB-supportive directors and replacing them with two directors who want the CWB to end.

Then, during the CWB election, Strahl selectively stripped 16,000 farmers of their voting rights. Farmers were removed for producing too little grain in the last 15 month, often due to flood or drought.

Strahl then ordered the firing of the president of the Canadian Wheat Board, Adrian Measner (and later Gerry Ritz ordered the firing of vice-president Deanna Allen.)

When the Agriculture Minister then tried to unilaterally end the marketing of barley by the Canadian Wheat Board, the Supreme Court struck the order down as a violation of the Canadian Wheat Board. Later, the courts ruled that original gag order was itself unconstitutional. Stephen Harper was a little ticked off.

Voting for the next CWB election will take place in November.