Letters to the editor – April 2, 2015

Compassion for all

Re: Animal Health column (WP Feb. 26), “Can veterinarians contribute to doctor-assisted death issue?

Jamie Rothenburger’s description of euthanasia (helpfully defined as a “good death”) was touching.

She describes the procedure as being “handled with great care and sensitivity” as sedation followed by the injection of an anesthetic agent result in the animal passing in “peace and dignity.”

What a far cry from the deaths experienced by shackled chickens hung upside down and dragged through a stun-bath before having their throats cut and put in a scalding tank, where some remain conscious and are boiled alive.

Or how about the “thumping” of piglets’ heads against walls, which the Manitoba Pork Council describes as “the fastest way to euthanize those little pigs. It’s part of doing business.”

But wait, there’s a big difference between pigs and your pet dog. One’s food and one’s family, right? But who decided that? We did, of course.

But it’s all the same to the animals: pain is pain and death is death. All animals deserve to be “handled with great care and sensitivity” not just some.

Peter Fricker,
Projects and Communications Director
Vancouver Humane Society,
Vancouver, B.C.

What’s after euthanasia?

We are writing concerning Jamie Rothenburger’s Animal Health column (WP Feb. 26) “Can veterinarians contribute to doctor-assisted death issue?

Her premise that vets are already dealing with euthanizing “family members” is eye opening.

Our society has elevated pets to the same level of humans, which then necessarily lowers humans to the level of animals. The dignity of each and every person, from conception to natural death, comes from the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God, which an animal is not. The only way people can “lose” their dignity, in the case of suffering or illness, is if the people caring for them would treat them without dignity.

Another concerning point made by Dr. Rothenburger is that of cost. She states that cost is “not an immediate issue in the Canadian health-care system.” With all levels of government having financial difficulties, don’t be surprised if cost becomes a real issue in trying to obtain health care for the terminally ill in the not-too-distant future.

By order of the Supreme Court, abortion without restriction was legalized. Again, by order of the Supreme Court, euthanasia will be legalized. What’s next? Polygamy? Pedophilia? Cannibalism?

Rupert and Mary Theuerer,
Spring Valley, Sask.

Land ownership issue

Thank you to Sean Pratt and The Western Producer (Feb. 26) for publicizing the complex issues underlying the Saskatchewan farmland buy up.

Unfortunately, the headline of “Foreign investors hit paydirt” and the focus on “foreign ownership” is misleading and too simple.

It would be much easier to protect family farms and rural communities if the land grab threat came from foreigners. They could simply be prohibited from buying up the land. In fact, those laws are already in place.

However, our research found that it appears to be Canadian money that is scooping up farmland by the section, concentrating land ownership and displacing family farming.

Changing that pattern would require land ownership regulations that express some non-market values. This challenges the whole “open for business” and “everything is for sale at the right price” ideology.

Are healthy rural communities, young farmers, local ownership and control over land, family farming and food sovereignty worthwhile? These are the big questions that land ownership legislation has to grapple with.

Nettie Wiebe,
Delisle, Sask.

Future in jeopardy

Newspapers have reported that the world needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent to 70 percent by 2050.

Without being pessimistic, I don’t think the countries of the world can reach any serious agreement on this as long as countries like Canada keep destroying our efforts towards this objective.

If they were asked, most Canadians would refuse to jeopardize so seriously the future for the limitless enrichment of a few. But this would be democracy — real democracy — something very different from what we now have in place.

Bruno Marquis,
Gatineau, Que.

Exports have grown

Re: “Reality check”, letter to the editor (WP March 19) from Neil Gorda.

Western Canadian farmers have spoken loud and clear in support of our government’s actions to end the old Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly, expand market access for top-quality Canadian products, and invest to give farmers the tools they need to succeed in the marketplace.

Since the end of the single desk, Canadian exports of wheat and barley have grown by a third, and the number of quality complaints has gone down by a third.

Bringing back the old mandatory single desk would take all of these new opportunities away. The new CWB is currently working to increase its capacity to become a vibrant marketing option for farmers.

This commercialization is not a political process — the CWB will assess all serious partners and then submit a plan for commercialization to the government. This is in accordance with the legislation passed December 2011 so that the new CWB can increase its capacity to remain a vibrant marketing option for farmers.

Thanks to the important changes made by our government, Canadian farmers are thriving. Farm cash receipts and net operating incomes continue to achieve all-time highs.

Our Conservative government’s track record of listening to Canadian farmers and working on their behalf is clear.

Gerry Ritz
Agriculture minister,
Ottawa, Ont.

Analysis questioned

Robert Arnason’s critique of the Alberta Wheat Commission (Have Farm Groups Become Federal Cheerleaders, March 26) was one-sided and not up to the usual editorial standards of The Western Producer.

The fact that WP Editors quickly revised an even more offensive version of the article posted online after I called to protest tells us something about the reporter’s interest in writing an objective analysis. His use of an anonymous source to make uncomplimentary and false comments about AWC and other farm organizations was questionable and would be prohibited by many news departments.

What I found most disappointing however, was an apparent lack of understanding of the role of provincial crop commissions and the work we do.

AWC is empowered by the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act of Alberta to collect a levy on all wheat sales and we invest those funds predominantly in research, market development, policy advocacy, communications and extension.

Our mission is to enhance the long-term profitability of wheat and Alberta Wheat producers. And yes, when governments enact policies we have lobbied for and are consistent with our mission, we often support them.

We are involved in policy advocacy, but unlike membership-based farm organizations, such as the ones mentioned in his article, we do not enter the realm of policy activism. While pure policy organizations often take an aggressive/adversarial approach, we pursue change by meeting with policymakers, collaborating with other members of the value chain and investing in solutions.

AWC is non-partisan and reaches out to all political parties. We recently worked with our fellow Alberta crop commissions on the Team Alberta lobby trip and met with MPs from all parties.

Had Arnason done a bit more research before concluding that AWC is doing nothing about Canada’s grain transportation problems, he would have discovered we are a major investor in the Ag Transport Coalition (ATC). Through this partnership of shippers, farm groups and the federal government, we are seeking ways to make the transportation system work better. ATC is now publishing a weekly report that shines a light on railway performance.

Had he read our news release of January 28 he would have also discovered we are leading a national initiative to improve farmers’ access to cash grain prices and market data. More information can be found at pdqinfo.ca.

AWC invests about $1.7 million annually in research into wheat genetics and agronomic improvements to make new varieties and best management practices available to farmers. These projects are focused on such areas as quality, yield, harvestability and disease resistance. Recently, we announced an investment in a $2.2 million project to improve agronomic practices for winter wheat.

Working with our national organization, Cereals Canada, we are involved in the marketing and branding of Canadian wheat in international markets and participate annually in the New Crop Missions that target key Canadian customers.

Arnason’s “analysis” seems to suggest that unless we are in attack mode we are doing nothing. At AWC we prefer results and in my view our record speaks for itself.

Tom Steve
General Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission


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