Should farmers align with oil companies?

Lobby efforts must be targeted, advises speaker

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Farmers need to start protesting to get federal political attention.


They also need to lobby on behalf of the oil companies and lobby Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.


That was the surprising advice given by conservative journalist and thinker Tasha Kheiriddin at the Canola Council of Canada’s annual convention Feb. 26.


“The long-term solution (to the overburdened railway system) is to get the oil moving another way, and that’s pipelines,” said Kheiriddin.


There’s not much point lobbying the federal Conservative party and prime minister Stephen Harper because they already strongly support pipeline construction. However, the Liberal position is undefined right now, and Trudeau could use the issue to get support and compete with the Conservatives for prairie votes.


“If he could knock the Tories out West, oh boy, he would love that,” Kheiriddin said about Trudeau.


“And farmers making the case for pipelines? Can you imagine a better optic? If you had tractors in Ottawa lined up saying, ‘we want pipelines because our grain isn’t moving, our canola isn’t moving. Help us.’ ”


Having another political party on side would help to get pipeline construction or expansion approved, she added. 


And since the Liberals haven’t yet defined their policies, she said, there’s a window of time in which to sell a pro-pipeline position to the party.


“That for you is an opportunity, because he wants western votes,” said Kheiriddin.


“It would give Mr. Trudeau cover and get you what you want, which is an assurance oil is not competing with you for the precious rail transportation that you need.”


Kheiriddin also said farmers need to pay attention to the federal political parties’ policies as a 2015 election looms because farmers will be affected by how they handle many issues.


“Your business is actually, whether you realize it or not, at the forefront of some of the biggest political debates in this country and globally,” she said.


Those include:


  • Weather and the climate change debate

  • Technology and its impact, including genetic modification and pesticides such as neonics

  • Transportation

  • Trade