Your reading list

“This is not something that should be rushed.”

“This is not something that should be rushed.”

That was just said by CWB chair Allen Oberg at a CWB newser responding to the legislation introduced in Parliament today. He was attacking the federal government’s decision to break the Board’s monopolies by August 1, 2012.

He also said the Board’s board of directors will meet next week to consider legal action to block the transformation. And he called on the government to allow Parliament to allow debate and extensive committee hearings on the issue.

It’s easy to see why Oberg would want to slow this thing down. He thinks it’s a terrible thing and hopes by slowing it down the decision can be reversed. To one of his perspective, it is a reasonable approach.

But I wonder what most farmers think. The government doesn’t seem to be showing signs of going all wobbly on this one, so legal challenges and filibusters and more study and talk doesn’t seem too likely to turn the government around.

So in the interests of farmers who can’t delay growing a crop next year and will need to market it, what should the board do? Do they really think the government doesn’t have the right to pass new legislation replacing Liberal government legislation? I’m not a lawyer, but I have never heard that governments, through Parliament, can’t make new laws and repeal old laws. And does the Official Opposition actually think it can force the government to reverse course on this issue? If they delay it enough, perhaps thousands of farmers and many more supporters will start coming out of the woodwork and demonstrate that farmers en masse hate the move and the government will run away. Governments don’t tend to persevere in directions that cause them major political damage. But that didn’t seem to be the case at the pro-CWB rallies organized by the board this summer, where the farmer turnout was underwhelming. I get the sense a lot of farmers aren’t willing to die on the barricades defending the CWB.

Perhaps there really is a viable plan among board patriots to save the monopolies. If there is a realistic chance of winning this fight, many farmers would likely forgive them for throwing a gigantic monkey wrench into their marketing plans for the next couple of years. Even if they are not big fans of the monopolies, they might agree with the idea that a farmer vote should be held, and if the board is legally right, then it’s hard to disagree with its decision.

But if farmers conclude the pro-monopolists don’t have any realistic chance of winning, they might not have any patience for political games that cause more pain, disruption and financial risk for their farms. Even pro-monopoly farmers aren’t likely to support actions that have little potential of success but that could expose their farms to huge financial risks.

To some politicos, this is a heroic, glorious fight, whichever side they’re on. But I suspect for the vast majority of farmers this is a critical business risk management issue, and whoever leaves farmers twisting in the wind will reap the whirlwind of farmer wrath. That could be the government, for pushing this so quickly, but filibusters and legal antics could easily turn the wrath towards the obstructionists. Whoever is seen to cause farmers to lose a bunch of money or take on a lot of unnecessary risk will be painting a big target on their heads.

About the author


Stories from our other publications