Letters to the editor – March 16, 2017

Add value at home

Premier Brad Wall suggests unpaid days off for the public servants to balance the budget. Sacrilege, you scream in frustration, if you are beholden to these public service jobs.

Let’s take a brief look, though that it is taxpayers who pay the nice pensions and other benefits for the unionized government workers. Many of those other free-enterprise taxpayers are in tough times, with no pensions.

Wall and company never allowed for the inevitability of a downturn in the markets. The lowest world royalty rates has never allowed adequate returns to build up a rainy-day fund for the hard times we are all now facing.

The negative impacts of his rhetoric in (keeping Saskatchewan strong) and (growth) by bending over backwards to invite huge predatory corporations into the province to pillage the infrastructure and resources so they can take the profits out of the province, despite the expected negative impacts, has come home to roost.

There are cutbacks all across the board. Few are insulated, except the predatory industries who are really not affected by cutbacks to the public or to the environmental degradation that accompanies their industries.

This is a time we should step back to reflect on our lifestyles, based on the capitalist philosophy of everything can be sacrificed to make a profit.

Nothing equalizes class status like meeting your neighbours, on handout day at the local food bank or in the cancer clinic because of industrial poisons.

Nurturing the value of our resources in value-added industries to keep the profits in the province makes more sense to me than shipping the resources out of the country en mass, so these mutlinationals can make greater profits in adding value to those resources based on the cheap, disposable, labour in Bangladesh.

Our resources would last longer and our environment could be maintained in a healthy state if we added that value here at home.

Greg Chatterson
Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask

Level playing field

As a grain and cattle farmer, I feel compelled to respond to the letter in the Feb. 23 issue of The Western Producer regarding wheat marketing by Levi Wood and Jason Scott.

The insinuation that American and Canadian farmers are on the same footing and should share each other’s markets equally would be laughable if the concept of free access was not so insidious.

Let us harken back to the good old days of the American Export Enhancement Program, when direct export aid to American farmers cost Canadian farmers billions of dollars. Of course, the Canadian Wheat Board took much of the blame, but the subsidies were American and contributed to much of the decline in numbers of Canadian farmers throughout the nineties. These same people are now hoping to gain access to Canadian elevators, to Canadian rail services … and to Canadian port terminals.

Or shall we return to 2013-14, the year of grain marketing chaos in Canada due to poor rail service, incredible numbers of backed-up ships and losses to farmers of billions of dollars to grain companies whose basis was absurdly high?

It is becoming clearer that the crop of 2016 is also proving difficult to move. Shall we add into the process millions of tonnes of American grown wheat?

And, though we are moving to an American system of grading, we are not there yet. To introduce significant quantities of American grain into our Canadian grading system would only exacerbate a situation that is already tarnishing an image that was once the envy of the world.

Canadian-grown grain is in demand in the United States because it is of high quality. Why would we ever think that we should contaminate our system with American-grown grain? Are the Wheat Growers so determined to undermine the Canadian reputation for quality?

It reminds me of the cattle industry in the 1990s. I heard the comment from many free marketers that we had a North American market where cattle could move without tariff across the 49th parallel as if it didn’t exist.

Then came BSE. Somehow, there were no cases south of the border and the U.S. market was closed to Canadian cattle, despite our responsible reaction to the disease.

And then there was country-of-origin-labelling, a direct hit to Canadian calf producers. That border was in play, is in play and will always be in play.

The election of Donald Trump as a tariff-loving president will not level a tilted playing field. When Americans yell, ‘play fair,’ it is time to check your pocket book.

Duane Filson
Woodrow, Sask.


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