From the Archives: Diefenbaker blames labour strikes on salary hike for MPs

The Western Producer takes a weekly look at some of the stories that made headlines in issues of the paper from 75, 50, 25 and 10 years ago.

75 years ago: Aug. 28, 1941

The dominion government rejected wheat policy recommendations made by the three western pools. The pools wanted the government to increase the initial price of No. 1 Northern wheat to $1 a bushel, take the wheat carryover off the market and declare the 1941-42 crop year an emergency year.

U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt vetoed legislation that would have frozen sales of government wheat stocks. Members of the House of Representatives feared that selling the stocks would depress prices, but Roosevelt argued that such a move would be contrary to “sound governmental policy” and to the long-time best interests of both farmers and consumers.

50 years ago: Aug. 25, 1966

Former prime minister John Diefenbaker said Parliament’s decision to increase MPs’ salaries to $18,000 a year was to blame for the country’s recent labour unrest.

He said strikes at the St. Lawrence Seaway, Air Canada and now the railways were part of a “wage explosion” that was the result of prime minister Lester Pearson’s “timid, diplomatic approach” to labour troubles.

If Pearson applied the same “30 percent formula” to the railway crisis that had been used to settle the previous strikes, Diefenbaker said, “it would speed the process toward “the most galloping inflation the country has ever seen.”

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Western Canadian Liberals called for a 40 cents per bu. increase in International Wheat Agreement prices and an increase in the initial payments for wheat to $1.75 per bu.

25 years ago: Aug. 29, 1991

Canada was expected to sign a five-year grain deal in the fall that would commit the Soviet Union to buy at least 25 million tonnes.

Grains minister Charlie Mayer was scheduled to fly to Moscow in late October to sign the agreement and hold talks with Soviet agricultural officials.

Farmers loaded 11,637 producer cars in 1990-91, breaking the previous record of 8,011 cars set in 1986-87.

The record numbers were expected to heat up the debate over producer cars as grain handling companies complained that farmers who shipped producer cars received favoured treatment in the car allocation process.

10 years ago: Aug. 24, 2006

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The Western Barley Growers Association was trying to set up an agricultural commodity clearinghouse attached to one of Canada’s three major trading ex-changes.

It would be an independent, privately run risk management tool to deal with some of the issues facing the Canadian Grain Commission’s licensing and bonding system.

Alberta agriculture couldn’t find workers, whether it was hog barns, auction marts or cattle slaughter plants.

Olymel’s celebrated second shift at its hog slaughter plant in Red Deer had just been cancelled because of the worker shortage.

The culprit was Alberta’s high-flying economy and soaring wages paid in the province’s oil patch. How times can change.

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