In a radio interview last week, federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz discussed the upcoming privatization and sale of his government’s newly created CWB.
He said that if the farmer-elected directors of the former Canadian Wheat Board were honest, they would have admitted their Canadian Wheat Board had more liabilities than assets.
He was insinuating it was already heavily leveraged when his government turned it into the CWB grain company.
Why would the minister tell such a whopper? Is he paving the way for an upcoming fire sale of his government’s neutered CWB? Could it be the minister intends to sell for a pittance but boast the sale as a “marketing miracle?”
If the minister had read the CWB’s audited financial statement, he would know that when he dismissed the farmer-elected directors, the CWB’s assets were $300 million more than its liabilities. He has his facts wrong again.
It is an insult that this minister has the nerve to even bring up the subject of farmer honesty. He is the same minister who said he was denied attendance at board meetings of the former CWB.
He said this at a federal agricultural committee meeting. Minutes later he was forced to recant and acknowledge receiving numerous requests but had declined them all.
This is the same minister who promised farmers a vote on the fate of the CWB just days before the federal election, then broke that promise immediately after the election.
His statements only go to show he will say anything to promote the political agenda of his party.
There was a time when I assumed that politicians were mature adults. I was very young then; I must have been. I now realize that some politicians are just silly.
That doesn’t say much for the voters who put them in power. And power is what some politicians wield, power which can destroy lives if allowed to run unchecked.
(Agriculture minister) Gerry Ritz likes to say again and again that the farmers of his constituency voted him in to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board.
I live in that constituency and have yet to hear from a farm person that he or she voted for Gerry Ritz. If they did they sure won’t admit it.
Everyone knows that farmers are a dying breed, much like people who can read, write or spell. In this constituency there are more plumbers, electricians, carpenters, oil truck drivers, oil workers, store keepers and so on than farmers.
Gerry Ritz supporters, who called themselves the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, often wrote letters wherein they outlined the prosperity we would have once the CWB was dismantled.
Has there been one “isn’t it wonderful now” letter from any of them now the wheat board is gone?
Oh, there is the “new” Canadian Wheat Board, which I dubbed the Conservative Wheat Board, but what does it do?
I think I’m right in recalling that when the wheat board was dictatorially destroyed, Gerry Ritz had a party with his WCWG friends in the south of the province.
If, indeed, the farmers in his own constituency of Battlefords/Lloydminster had voted him in to destroy the wheat board, why did he not have the party here?
Whenever a letter is published in which the writer holds Gerry Ritz’s feet to the fire, he promptly dictates a letter in which he insults the writer. He likes to insult farmers, not represent them. That’s a silly thing to do. Will he snap off a letter to insult me? I don’t think so; I’m not important enough. I expect to have my feelings hurt. Not important enough to insult.
A friend of mine asked some farmers, strangers to my friend, what they thought they’d do after the wheat board was dismantled.
They exclaimed that it was wonderful; they could now ask whatever they want for their grain. They might as well ask for the moon while they are at it.
There are silly politicians. There are also silly farmers.
C. D. Pike,
I was disappointed but not surprised that the FNA offer (to buy into the CWB) was rejected. I was hoping that a deal with FNA would be a way to return some of the equity in the CWB to the farmers who should own it.
The court ruled that the farmer equity was not taken away from the farmers but remained in the new CWB, which is admitting the farmers have equity in the current CWB.
I am confident that every effort will be made by the grain companies to prevent farmers from ever having a controlling interest in a company that markets and handles the farmers’ grain.
If farmers owned such a system the competition would be good for the farmer and give farmers some power in the market.
Presently, farmers have no marketing power, which the government achieved with its marketing freedom legislation, which was intended to get rid of the CWB as a trade problem.
The CWB offer of shares to the farmer is really insignificant. As the farm scene has changed so dramatically, it is hard to see how farmers could build their own company to compete against the multi-national companies that own the grain scene and control what the farmer gets.
I saw FNA as a last-ditch effort for the farmers. Economics have driven farmers hard to expand their operations at a high cost to communities and neighbour relations.
There won’t be more land. There has to be a constant stream of farmers dropping out to allow the needed expansion. Now one operator with a few seasonal hired hands farms an area that used to support 20 to 30 farm families.
I don’t doubt that in good times they can prosper and carry a few bad years.
As the population grows, so does the demand for food. Today I can drive many miles and occasionally see an active farmyard. There are more acreages than farmyards. Are these changes for the good?
Just show us
People shouldn’t be surprised to see agriculture minister Gerry Ritz attacking individual farmers. He’s been caught in a coverup and just doesn’t know what else to do.
When the farmers were running the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), we published detailed and audited financial reports each year.
But now that Gerry Ritz is running his version of the CWB, no financial statements are available — even though the legislation still calls for them. By covering up the operations of his CWB, Ritz has made it impossible to know what his appointed directors are paying themselves or if the government has, in fact, injected more taxpayer money into his short-term grain company.
With one breath. Ritz says the government has put $300 million of taxpayers’ money into his CWB to keep it afloat.
With the next breath he says his CWB is alive and well. And then he says that he will reward any existing grain company that will follow his wishes by just giving them — not selling — the assets that the farmers paid for. Quite a prize for any grain company willing to be complicit in Ritz’s political manoeuvre, and a clear admission that his CWB can’t survive on its own.
Disenfranchising farmers and taking away their assets is what Mr. Ritz is good at — think hopper cars, AgriStability margins, the PFRA, the tree nursery, the CWB vote, etc.
Mr. Ritz, stop the coverup and just show us your CWB financial statements. We showed you ours.
Swift Current, Sask.
Thank you so much for the article and pictures of the Gem Lakes (WP Oct. 23).
About 20 years ago, we and 22 kids and grandkids hiked around the lakes. Then we all jumped in the prettiest one. A big goose came swooping down and joined us. What fun.
It is such a beautiful part of our province.