Letters to the editor – November 22, 2018

Ritz earned entry to Ag Hall of Fame

I read with great dismay a column submitted by Ian Robson where he diminishes the prestige of the Agriculture Hall of Fame for inducting Minister Gerry Ritz. (Ritz should not be in the Ag Hall of Fame, Nov. 15.)

He then goes on a lengthy tirade about how terrible he thinks Ritz was as our federal agriculture minister. His column contains a number of problems, including false conjecture. I will mention only a few. He claims more than 15 percent of farmers went out of business under Ritz’s watch. Would they all be farming today if we had a different minister? Likely the vast majority of them are retirees who would have happened regardless of who was ag minister.

He says our collective debt has risen to over $102 billion. How does this compare to other industries and is it relative? He throws out a number without any reference or explanation. Is this debt because of Ritz? Of course not.

Robson goes on to suggest that the Port of Churchill and the rail line servicing it was rendered uneconomic and now needs taxpayer funds to restore it. Churchill was always uneconomic and had to be subsidized to be viable. If anything, Ritz did us all a favour by stopping the money drain.

It’s very unfortunate that Robson’s vision is so clouded by his ideology that he fails to see and recognize the many accomplishments Canadian agriculture realized under the leadership of Ritz. Many have suggested that Gerry Ritz is among the best, if not the best, agriculture minister Canada has ever had. The Agriculture Hall of Fame knows this and is why they made this well deserved induction.

The Alberta Wheat Commission was proud to partner with Alberta Barley and the Canadian Cattleman’s Association in nominating Ritz for this honour.

Kevin Bender, chair
Alberta Wheat Commission

Farmers miss out on marijuana profits

Marijuana is now legal. Like it or not, that is the new reality.  But what isn’t new is that again, farmers are being neglected.

In my outlaw days, I was arrested with a group of friends for growing it. Ironically, we were found innocent at court because one of our 80-something-year-old farmer neighbours admitted to allowing it to grow in his fields so he could feed it to his goats and it seemed to give the goat milk a nicer taste. I kid you not. In any case, that’s the old days.

I support the new marijuana laws for two reasons:

  • Most marijuana in Canada comes in from the cartels in Mexico and is distributed by illegal motorcycle gangs; little is actually grown in Canada. These criminal enterprises have never hesitated to add addictive chemicals to their weed in order to charge more for the higher hit and to be an encouragement for customers to try a higher impact drug like cocaine or rock-cocaine, where the more serious money is. Legalizing weed will significantly lower the illegal market, although not eliminate it.
  • Hundreds of thousands of mostly young Canadians have been arrested and have criminal records for having the audacity of smoking or selling what should never have been an illegal product in the first place. Every one of them should have their names removed from all legal records.  Each person charged has had a negative impact on their lives for being a “criminal.” How many lost their jobs, or were turned down from a job?

Today, the growing of marijuana has evolved into a secretive science, with Latin level-medical terminology to describe the THC levels, and is grown behind high security fences in green houses using hydroponic feed systems and insulation blocked windows.

We are supposed to believe this approach is for our safety. It isn’t. The existing structure exists to ensure very few people can actually capture the explosive income levels this scientific-non-science will generate.

I trust the farmers. I trust the men and women who grow our food to grow my marijuana. I certainly trust their growing ability massively more than the lab coat in the weed houses.

Farmers are the most underrated professionals in this country because they are the most under appreciated professionals. We take their work for granted, despite the fact they are the hardest working and committed sector. Why? Because they have zero political influence. Why? Because they allow themselves to be treated as second-class professionals; the new marijuana laws being an example.

Why can’t I go to Martin’s Apples and Marijuana to buy the weed I want to smoke or have in my apple butter or chips? Or go to the Honey Centre and Weed house?  Or Harley’s Farms?

Instead of using the new marijuana laws to help promote and support our farmers, they are locked out of this lucrative business.

In short, our farmers are being ignored again.  This time let’s figure out what to do about it.

David Maxwell
Kitchener, Ont.

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