Letters to the editor – April 5, 2018

Lack of farmer support

Once again, a railway backlog is keeping Manitoba grain farmers from moving their product to market. It’s unacceptable, but entirely predictable. Since the federal government unilaterally scrapped the Canadian Wheat Board without proper protections for farmers, the result has been chaotic.

Four years ago, Canadian farmers lost billions of dollars due to problems in shipping grain to market. The same scenario is shaping up again as orders for rail cars go unfilled. Manitoba producers are rightly nervous that their governments and the companies they rely on are not putting their interests first.

This whole debacle could have been avoided if both Conservative and Liberal governments had taken the necessary steps to protect the interests of our farmers years ago. Instead, we have seen years of tortured inaction. Grain shipments through the Port of Churchill have ceased, and proposed legislation that might help the situation is sitting idly in Canada’s Senate.

The current Conservative provincial government is not taking action. When pressed on this issue at the Manitoba legislature, the minister of growth, enterprise and trade, Cliff Cullen, dismissed it as a “federal issue.”

Our NDP caucus tried to have an emergency debate in the legislature to take action on this issue, but the PC government shut down debate on this urgent matter. The PC party, which supported the disorganized termination of the Canadian Wheat Board, owes farmers a lot more than such a dismissive approach. Farmers deserve a lot better from the provincial government — real support and real advocacy.

James Allum
Manitoba agriculture critic
Winnipeg, Man.

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