Thursday 16 April 2015

Canadian Wheat Board sale to foreign owned firm unacceptable

Canadian Wheat Board sale to foreign owned firm unacceptable  
April 16, 2015
The proposed purchase of control of the present Canadian Wheat Board, 51.1%, to a foreign firm is the final step in the Harper Government corporatizing a farmer controlled organization without taking into account the results of the plebiscite among grain producers regarding the future of the Canadian Wheat Board, ignoring existing legislation and a judicial decision.

The Canadian Wheat Board came into being in 1935 as an answer to the plight of western Canadian farmers in the midst of the Great Depression and in response to appeals by western farmers during the 1920s and 1930s for a government agency to market their wheat with a fairness to all producers unavailable from large private corporate interest.

The Canadian Wheat Board was the sole marketer of western Canadian wheat and barley sold for human consumption, both domestically and abroad. Wheat and barley farmers, farming communities and even provincial governments were protected against the periodic economic shocks to the marketplace which bankrupt smaller producers. Managing $4 billion of wheat sales annually, the CWB was one of Canada’s largest exporters and kept control of the fate of Canadian farmers in Canadian hands. The Canadian Wheat Board was the single most important exporter of wheat in the world.

Under both Liberal and Conservative governments, and with the supportive advice of farmers, CWB governance evolved increasing producer control of management so that two-thirds of the CWB Board of Directors was chosen by producers.

The majority 62% support by grain farmers of the plebiscite for continuance of the Canadian Wheat Board as the sole marketer of western Canadian wheat and barley was a further advice and direction by western Canadian wheat farmers who wished to keep their fate in their own, Canadian, hands. A direction acknowledged and honoured by all Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments.

The Harper Government despite a court ruling and plebiscite results acted against the benefits to producers.  Come good times or bad, farmers have no choice except to sell their grain as individuals to multi national corporations against their expressed will and best interest.

The sole reason presented for abolition of the single desk was and is an ideological preference for a free market which excludes government-run participants internationally under the pretense of freedom of choice locally. This is merely divide-and-rule in the interest of foreign corporate players.

The action taken was opposed by the Progressive Canadian Party which follows the belief of its Progressive Conservative forebear John George Diefenbaker in "Progress. with care". In this  action there was no progress but returning producers to their pre-1935 situation, and this without care for their expressed wishes to have the CWB single desk continue following the terms of the Canada Wheat Board Act and a judicial decision.

Should the proposed disposition of the Canadian Wheat Board take place American and Saudi Arabian firms rather than Canadian farmers will obtain control of the assets developed while the CWB was operated by farmer elected directors and be able to set prices without reference to producers interests.

1 comment:

  1. Where is the Conservative principled leadership and prudent economic management?