Wheat board ballot could be full

Prairie farmers could have a bumper crop of names to choose from when

they fill out ballots in this fall’s election of Canadian Wheat Board

directors.

As of last week, 23 farmers had asked the organization running the

election to send them candidate information packages.

However, it remains to be seen how many will actually end up on the

ballots.

In the last election in 2000, 27 packages were sent out, but in the end

only 15 candidates took the plunge and filed nomination papers.

“Who knows how many people have asked for the packages just to see

them?” said election co-ordinator Peter Eckersley of the consulting

firm Meyers Norris Penny in Brandon.

By the end of last week, only two farmers had filed nomination papers

and officially become candidates – incumbent director Bill Nicholson of

Shoal Lake and challenger Jim Downey of Melita, both running in

Manitoba’s District 9.

Twelve others have publicly stated their intention to run. Based on

those declarations, here’s how the five district races are shaping up:

District 1 – Incumbent Art Macklin of Debolt, Alta., is being

challenged by Brian Trueblood of Dapp, Alta., and Albert Wagner of

Stony Plain, Alta. Two other candidate information packages have been

sent out, but Eckersley declined to identify the recipients.

District 3 – Incumbent Larry Hill of Swift Current, Sask., will square

off against Buck Spencer of Lethbridge, Alta., and Con Johnson of

Bracken, Sask.

District 5 – Greg Porozni of Vegreville, Alta., is the only person who

has declared an intention to run. Eight other candidate information

packages have been sent out.

Porozni said that with incumbent John Clair not seeking re-election, it

should be a wide-open race.

“I think it will be a real crap shoot because of that,” he said. “I

expect we’ll have more candidates than any district.”

District 7 – Incumbent Mike Halyk of Melville, Sask., is running along

with challengers Dwayne Anderson of Fosston, Sask., Brad Hanmer of

Govan, Sask., and Bill Rusk of Nipawin, Sask.

District 9 – Don Dewar of Dauphin, Man., has declared his intention to

run against Nicholson and Downey.

The deadline for candidates to file nomination papers is noon on Oct.

25.

All four incumbents are supporters of the board’s single desk marketing

authority, as is Dewar.

The other eight declared candidates, running under the banner of the

organization CARE, want to scrap the single desk and allow grain

companies and individual farmers to sell export wheat and barley in

competition with the board.

In Districts 1, 3, and 7 the vote is shaping up as an incumbent single

desk supporter against two or three dual market candidates.

District 7 candidate Hanmer said he, Anderson and Rusk agreed that

running a group of dual market candidates would boost their chances for

victory over incumbent Halyk.

Three candidates working together will be better able to get their

views across at candidates meetings and through advertising, he said,

and should be able to take advantage of the preferential ballot.

A joint effort is needed because incumbents always have a big

advantage, especially in the CWB elections.

“We’re trying to even the playing field somewhat,” he said.

District 3 incumbent Hill, who could face two dual market challengers,

said there’s no question that the more candidates there are espousing a

particular viewpoint, the more it will be heard by voters.

“You have multiplier effect on the message,” he said, adding that a

group of candidates can “gang up” on their opponent at public meetings.

Also, if each of those candidates brings with him or her a group of

local supporters who might not otherwise vote, that can affect the

outcome.

“Having said all that, I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from

running for whatever reason,” he said.

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