Standing Up To Harper: Thousands of Canadians Rally to 'Stop the Steamroller'

Over 17,000 letters sent to MPs in first week of campaign, supporting the Canadian wheat farmers

WINNIPEG, Nov. 10, 2011 /CNW/ - Thousands of Canadians this week, from all parts of the country are standing up to the Harper government, and standing up for farmers.  By sending over 17,000 texts and emails, they are sending a powerful message to the government that its attempt to steamroll legislation that will devastate the livelihoods of hundreds of Canadian farmers is simply wrong, illegal and unethical.

The new campaign, Stop the Steamroller, launched last week by the Canadian Wheat Board, is encouraging Canadians to speak out against the proposed legislation to dismantle the wheat board by Christmas even though the majority of farmers oppose the decision. Through a mix of social media and traditional media, the campaign continues to grow exponentially, and is now generating an impressive over 2,000 letters a day.

"To get this kind of response in the first week of our campaign is incredible," said Allen Oberg, Chair of the Canadian Wheat Board.  "Canadians are clearly saying to the Harper government, enough is enough and sending a clear message that our farmers deserve better treatment. Whichever side of the debate a farmer is on, this is a momentous decision and all farmers have the right to be heard. The reality is, the Harper government should be ashamed of how it's treating our farmers and our goal is to force them to reconsider how they're going about this.  "

The campaign, which includes print, radio, TV, a microsite and online advertising, asks Canadians to visit or text FARMER to 24680 to show their support.  The text generates a letter to MPs opposing the decision to dismantle the Wheat Board by the end of the year.

'Stop the Steamroller' Campaign facts:

Why are the government's actions illegal? 

Despite the fact that the law requires the government to consult with farmers on any changes to the CWB, the government has steadfastly refused to hold a vote among farmers and says it will ignore the vote conducted by the CWB.  Not only is the decision illegal, it's also the opposite of what the farmers themselves want:  a recent plebiscite among wheat and barley famers showed that 62 per cent want to keep the CWB.

Why does the CWB matter to farmers?

  • The CWB has been working for wheat and barley farmers for over 75 years to ensure that they get the best possible price for their crops.
  • The CWB is paid for and run by the farmers it benefits - it receives no public subsidies.
  • Studies have proved that the CWB puts hundreds of millions of additional dollars into farmers' pockets every year.
  • The United States government has tried 13 times to convince the world trading authorities that the CWB gives Canadian farmers an unfair trade advantage.  They have failed every time but are still seeking to eliminate the CWB in the current round of WTO trade negotiations.
  • The CWB is all about farmers working together to sell their wheat and barley in a marketplace controlled by a handful of giant American food conglomerates rather than competing with each other in a race to the bottom - think of it as a trade union for wheat and barley sales.
  • Those same conglomerates control the rest of the world's grain trade; Canadian wheat and barley is the only exception to that rule. This means that the wheat and barley industry in Canada will go from being run by Canadians to being run by foreign interests.
  • Farmers will be left to negotiate their own prices with these companies - some of them will do well but far more will be worse off. This decision could be the beginning of the end for many family farms that form the backbone of Canadian agriculture.
  • Many small communities in western Canada will also be hurt by the fallout from this decision.
  • The government has not put forward any business case on why the CWB should be eliminated.
  • In 1998 farmers were promised that they would be entitled to vote on the future of the CWB.  That promise has been repeated by the Harper government but they're breaking that promise.
  • This is the most significant agricultural policy decision of the century and the government is refusing to listen to the voices of people who will be the most affected by it.   That's wrong.

More information is available


For further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Narrative Advocacy Media
Tricia Soltys
416 509-0955

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