With legislation set to be passed by Christmas, CWB, farmers and
Opposition MPs urge government to do the right thing
WINNIPEG, Nov. 15, 2011 /CNW/ - Today, for the first time ever, all
eight farmer-elected Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) directors, representing
tens of thousands of farmers, along with members of the Opposition,
stood on the steps of Parliament Hill to call on the Harper government
to stop its illegal decision to dismantle the CWB by Christmas.
With less than five weeks left until the end of the Parliamentary
session, there is still time left for the Harper government to put an
end to the legislation that will devastate the livelihoods of many
Canadian farmers, said Allen Oberg, chair of the CWB's
farmer-controlled board of directors
"We want a clear answer from the Prime Minister on why he is rushing
this legislation through Parliament and why he unlawfully chose to
ignore the 62 per cent of farmers who voted to keep the CWB in our own
plebiscite," said Oberg. "We are here because we cannot sit idly by
while this government sacrifices farmers' interests to those of giant
American grain corporations. We cannot stand and watch farmers'
democratic rights be steamrolled. This should be a farmer's decision -
not one that is made in Ottawa."
Farmers aren't the only people taking issue with the Harper government's
treatment of Prairie farmers. In the one-week Stop the Steamroller campaign, over 25,000 Canadians sent letters to their MPs in support of
"The response to our campaign was incredible - Canadians are passionate
about this issue," said Oberg. "They fundamentally disagree with a
government that uses bullying tactics to get its way. It's time for
the Harper government to start listening."
Joining the farmer-elected CWB directors on the Hill were Manitoba wheat
farmers Reg Martinet and Drew Baker, as well as NDP agriculture critic
Pat Martin and Deputy Liberal Leader Ralph Goodale.
"For my entire life, my family has worked through the Canadian Wheat
Board, our own marketing organization, to sell our wheat around the
world and retain all the profits ourselves," said Baker, 24, a fifth
generation farmer. "By dismantling the Wheat Board the Harper
government is putting western Canadian farmers at risk without even
Martin calls the Harper government's treatment of the CWB an "affront to
democracy. The way (the Conservatives) are pushing this bill through
is reckless and irresponsible. It shows their blatant disrespect for
"The Conservatives try to silence their critics by claiming that those
farmers who still want the CWB can still have the CWB, voluntarily --
but that`s false," said Goodale. "The CWB's defining characteristic is
its single-desk selling system. With no single desk, no capital base
and no access to grain handling facilities, what's left is an empty
shell set up to fail."
Canadian Wheat Board Quick Facts:
Why are the government's actions illegal?
Despite the fact that the law requires the government to consult with
farmers on changes to the CWB, the government refused to hold a vote
among farmers and has ignored a vote conducted by the CWB. Not only is
this decision illegal, it's also the opposite of what the farmers
themselves want. A recent plebiscite among wheat and barley famers
showed 62 per cent want to keep the CWB.
What happens to Canadian farmers without the CWB?
Farmers will be left to negotiate their own prices with giant American
food conglomerates - this will mean the beginning of the end of family
farms that form the backbone of Canadian agriculture.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in additional, premium returns that the
CWB makes for Prairie farmers will be lost. All profits from grain
sales will go to owners and shareholders of private grain companies,
instead of to farmers themselves.
The CWB is paid for and run by the farmers themselves - it receives no
public subsidies. Farmers receive all its returns, after costs.
The wheat and barley industry will go from being run by Canadians to
being run by American and foreign interests.
Beyond farmers, the elimination of the CWB will cause economic harm to
many small communities throughout Western Canada.
More information is available www.stopthesteamroller.ca
SOURCE CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD
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