From the Archives: Manitoba Sugar Company locks out employees

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: April 3, 1941

Saskatchewan premier W.J. Patterson told the legislature that Ottawa was considering following two of the province’s wheat policy recommendations, but not until later in the year when the crop’s quality and yield were known. The recommendations were to offer advances to farmers to build farm storage facilities and advances in lieu of the quota that farmers would eventually deliver to the Canadian Wheat Board.

The federal government was allowing any grade of wheat to be shipped from the Prairies to British Columbia at mill feed freight rates as long as it was mixed with coarse grain and certified as being used only for feed purposes.

50 years ago; March 31, 1966

Approximately 250 farmers, farm group representatives, businesspeople and cattle producers met for two days during the Seventh National Farm and Business Forum in Winnipeg to talk about what was called the “feedgrain dilemma.”

The problem was the feed freight assistance policy, which was introduced as a wartime measure to help farmers obtain prairie feed-grain in greater quantities and to keep down the cost of production.

“There could have been no quarrel with the objective. The feed freight assistance policy was an emergency policy designed to deal with an emergency situation,” said J.C. Gilson of the University of Manitoba’s agricultural economics department. “But what justification has there been for the feed freight assistance policy during the 20 years since the war?”

He said the policy had cost $377 million and promised to cost more if changes weren’t made.

Members of the Hudson Bay Route Association were the latest to call for the nationalization of Canadian Pacific Railway over what was perceived to be low grain shipments, but only if the railway wasn’t allowed to ship grain to the Port of Churchill.

25 years ago: April 4, 1991

Ontario and Quebec were threatening to withdraw from a key part of the national egg plan. The two disgruntled provinces had repeatedly criticized the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency’s surplus re-moval system and planned to assume control of their own excess production by January 1992 unless changes were made.

CEMA chair Ken Tjaden said such a move would force the agency to collect higher levies from the eight remaining provinces or cut production quotas.

Manitoba Sugar Co. was refusing to sign production contracts with the province’s 300 sugar beet producers until a labour dispute with its unionized employees was settled. The company had just locked out workers at its plant as part of the dispute. The union said it was afraid the company planned to permanently close the plant, which would kill the province’s sugar beet industry. In the end, that’s exactly what happened.

10 years ago: March 30, 2006

Transport Canada wanted to hold a meeting so that Canadian National Railway talk to customers about service complaints. However, CN refused to attend the meeting, saying it preferred to deal with customers one on one.

A farm auction was held at Stockholm, Sask. March 24, but it wasn’t your ordinary farm auction. Don and Amy Gillen sold 80 parcels of land that were each roughly the size of a quarter section. The parcels sold for as low as $15,000 and as high as $45,000.

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