Tory bill Threatens to Gut Canada's Grain System, Study Highlights Risks to Consumers, Grain Producers

    OTTAWA, April 1 /CNW Telbec/ - A study released yesterday by the Canadian
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) is sounding the alarm about the minority
Conservative government's Bill C-13.
    C-13, the reincarnation of Bill C-39 (which died when the last Parliament
was prorogued) represents a concerted attack on key pillars of the Canadian
public system for managing and marketing grain, says the CCPA study called
Threatened Harvest: Protecting Canada's World-Class Grain System.
    Measures in the bill propose to deregulate/privatize inward weighing and
inspection services to the detriment of independent quality assurance and the
long-term reputation for quality associated with the Canadian brand.
    "Given the abundant evidence about the potentially devastating effects of
rampant deregulation - whether we're talking about food safety or financial
markets - this hardly seems like the time to be dismantling a grain system
that is the envy of the world," says Bob Kingston, President of the
Agriculture Union.
    "These critical public services performed by our members are far too
important to be handed over to private contractors," says Kingston.
    Another element of the bill that seems designed to destabilize the
current system is a measure that proposes to eliminate a security program that
ensures that farmers are paid for the grain that they deliver. This program
has added stability to the system over the years, insulating farmers from
catastrophic financial loss in the event that a buyer goes bankrupt or will
not pay for delivered grain.
    This measure, along with relentless attacks and attempts to hobble both
the Canadian Wheat Board and the Canadian Grain Commission, underscores the
government's intent to undermine the current system and tip the balance in
favour of international grain companies.
    The current system leverages the power of single-desk selling for the
benefit of Canadian grain producers. It is the legacy of decades of grassroots
activism undertaken to level the playing field between grain farmers and the
grain companies, says Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President of the
Public Service Alliance of Canada. Ducharme is calling on the opposition
parties in Parliament to act to safeguard Canada's grain management system - a
Canadian success story.

For further information:

For further information: Bob Kingston, National President, Agriculture
Union, (613) 560-4306

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