Letters to the editor – October 9, 2014

CONSERVATIVE BURGLARY

Re: (Agriculture minister) Mr. Gerry Ritz’ letter to the editor, “Looking forward,” July 31, where he thumps his chest and promotes the open market benefits he claims are there. He claims the majority of farmers are looking ahead and not stuck in the past.

However, we remember the past before the Canadian Wheat Board, when the grain companies paid as little as they could get away with and many grain handlers making fortunes from farmers’ efforts and sweat. We see the same thing happening again with no shame shown by the multinational grain brokers.

Mr. Ritz claims the Conservative government had a mandate to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board with the 2011 election. However, the farming population on the Prairies is only three percent. To the other 97 percent, the Canadian Wheat Board wasn’t even on the table. If they had listened to the farmer vote taken earlier, they would have to admit it was 67 percent in favour of retaining the CWB.

The Canadian government stole the assets of western farmers and is continuing to steal more. Every time a farmer sells wheat to the Ritz Board and buys a $5 share per tonne, he is making a donation to the federal government. We know that when the Ritz Board gets sold to the private trade the farmer shares will have no voice and will go the same way as the original wheat pool shares went when Sask Pool went private.

He claims we get paid faster through the open market. True, but we are getting only a percentage of what we received from the CWB because they gave everything back less operating expenses, and that took a year to play out. However, after the first year the farmers were getting paid for a year’s production every year.

Open marketing is transferring a big part of the Prairies’ economy to multinationals that are international. The wealth isn’t staying on the Prairies.

The Conservative government is made up of non-farmers, Gerry Ritz excepted, who is an ex-ostrich farmer, that have no stake in farming and have made a big mistake in eliminating orderly marketing.

The new Ritz CWB stands for Conservative Wealth Burglary.

Bernie von Tettenborn,
Round Hill, Alta.

ADDRESS VOTER APATHY

The first thing people managing elections need to do is change the way they think from “what ought to be” to “what is.”

We are currently in the middle of the greatest societal upheaval since the invention of the printing press. Social media use is driving that, and people love it.

Young and middle age people expect things to happen right now. Many older people, too. They want instant information at their fingertips, instant communications, fast forwarding, fast food, phone-ahead take out, remote controls, quick cash, high-speed lanes, GPS and microwaved meals.

They want to immediately know what their choices are and if they vote, they want to vote immediately. That’s reality.

Saying something like, “it’s your responsibility to vote,” when that implies an out-of-touch time-consuming bothersome process, just doesn’t cut it. Saying “voting is quick and easy,” will certainly help. Maybe we need drive-through polls?

Dennis Hall,
Saskatoon, Sask.

SHORT-TERM THINKING

W. C. Fields’ line, “never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump” has never been better executed than by the Conservative government and their farmer-disenfranchisement policies.

Their first move upon election in 2006 was to tear up the farmer-rail car agreement. This agreement would have given farmers a place at the grain transportation table, and while it wouldn’t have solved all the marketing problems from last year, it would have at least given farmers a look behind the curtain.

This move was followed by taking away the community pasture network that farmers have relied on for decades, destroying the PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) and the tree nursery, vaporizing the support that farmers had through the margin based Agristability program and weakening the Canadian Grain Commission.

In parallel was the defunding and destruction of the grain varietal development and research capacity, and this at a time when the world’s population has never been higher and the climate has increasing variability.

Decimation of the Canadian Wheat Board was next: farmers were disenfranchised and not allowed to vote on the matter according to the existing law, taxpayers were billed an unnecessary $349 million in 2011 and the $16 billion world leading exporter was reduced from a business to a political maneuver with a few hundred million in assets.

Predictably, the destruction of orderly marketing through the real CWB cost farmers $4 billion in lost income for the 2013 crop, money that ended up in grain company pockets, lost sales and demurrage charges, and the government now refuses to publish any financial reports for the Ritz-run CWB since 2012.

With financial cover-ups and fast-tracking the give-away of farmer-paid CWB assets, it looks like the government is trying to bury a dead skunk as fast as they can.

An agriculture minister from Ontario or B.C. could not have accomplished this much destruction. No, the minister had to be a short-term thinker from the Prairies where Conservative votes could be taken for granted.  Somewhere, W. C. Fields is feeling warm and fuzzy all over again.

Stewart Wells,
Swift Current, Sask.

explore

Stories from our other publications