WINNIPEG, Feb. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The federal government is proceeding
with reckless haste on all fronts related to Canada's valuable grain sector
and this could have devastating consequences, according to producers and grain
inspectors as well as representatives of the federal opposition parties.
At a news conference in Winnipeg, representatives from Save My CWB
Campaign were joined by Manitoba's Minister of Agriculture Rosann Wowchuk,
Winnipeg-area Liberal and NDP MP's, Bill Nicholson, the elected District 9
Director of the Canadian Wheat Board, Hudson Bay Route Association President
Arnold Grambo and a representative for the Agriculture Union - PSAC to call
attention to the ill-advised rush to fundamentally transform the grain sector.
Winnipeg area MP's Pat Martin, Anita Neville, Raymond Simard and Judy
Wasylycia-Leis, drew attention to the significance of the orderly marketing of
grains to the economy of Manitoba and of its capital. Winnipeg is home to the
head offices of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and the Canadian Grain
Commission (CGC), and orderly marketing of grains is a big part of the
province's $3.7 billion agricultural industry.
Within the past month, the federal Conservative Minister of Agriculture
Gerry Ritz has:
- threatened to legislate an end to barley marketing by the Wheat Board,
despite overwhelming evidence that producers do not support this option
and a clear ruling by the Federal Court of Canada;
- introduced legislation (Bill C-39) that will gut the Grain Commission,
the independent body that provides essential services to grain
producers. C-39 completely ignores the unanimous recommendations of an
all-party Parliamentary committee for reform of the CGC;
- decreed an end to Kernel Visual Distinquishability (KVD) in the face of
a broad consensus that a new mechanism to identify and protect wheat
varieties and the integrity of our wheat exports cannot be developed
- made the patronage appointment of former Reform MP Elwin Hermanson as
Chief Commissioner of the Grain Commission and oversaw the firing of
Wheat Board Vice President Deanna Allen.
"This Conservative government is putting the future of farmers and of all
Canadians who benefit from grain at risk," said Ken Sigurdson, spokesperson
for the Save my CWB Campaign. Sigurdson noted that the CWB's S&P credit rating
had recently been downgraded due to the uncertainty generated by Ritz's
actions. "The government needs to listen to the elected Directors of the Wheat
Board; the only body democratically elected by all of the farmers of Western
Canada," Sigurdson added.
By introducing Bill C-39, the Conservative Government ignored the advice
of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee which called for cost/benefit
analysis and pilot projects before proceeding with reforms to the Canadian
Grain Commission. Delaying Bill C-39 would give the government the time to do
the required due diligence.
"The Conservatives are only one party in Canada's parliament and
thankfully they are not a majority government. We call on parliament to reject
this ill-advised and poorly prepared legislation that will gut the Canadian
Grain Commission and put grain exports at risk. Parliament should send the
government back to the drawing board to get this bill right," said Howard
Willems, Vice President of Agriculture Union - PSAC. "C-39 should be withdrawn
and only brought back if and when it is designed to support Canada's farmers
and their international reputation for excellence".
The Save My CWB Campaign is a group of farmers and activists committed to
giving voice to the majority of farmers who have voted for a strong and
vibrant Canadian Wheat Board. Our web site is savemycwb.ca
The Agriculture Union - PSAC represents 9500 people who work at
Agriculture Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission, the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency, and other workplaces.
For further information:
For further information: Peter Bleyer, (613) 292-6929; Bob Kingston,
Executive VP, Agriculture Union, (613) 882-2607; Ken Sigurdson, Save my CWB,
(204) 734-3644 or Bruce Dodds, (613) 924-9418