Some farmers feel passionately about the Canadian Wheat Board, whether they are for it or against it.
The Conservative government is proceeding as fast as it can to remove the board’s monopoly powers as the only buyer of wheat and barley allowed in Western Canada.
Those who wish to see the board continue say the government is ignoring the wishes of a majority of farmers who want to maintain the status quo. Ditching the board’s powers will mean lower returns for farmers and the loss of Canadian jobs, they say.
Those on the other side say farmers will get the same or higher returns and jobs might very well increase.
Both sides make further claims to advance their respective positions.
However, the repeated point — made by those who want to keep the board as it is — that a majority of farmers have voted for the status quo shows nothing but disregard for other farmers.
If two farmers want to conduct business in one manner and a third one wants to conduct business a different way, why should the third farmer be forced to follow the majority?
It doesn’t matter if a plebiscite on the matter showed a slight majority or a massive majority in favour of the status quo — this isn’t politics, it’s business. The board has its power due to government legislation, which means it isn’t really the choice of farmers.
It’s also misleading to say that a plebiscite makes it all fair for farmers. In politics, if we don’t like the current federal government, we can vote them out the next time around. Plus there are checks and balances — such as provincial governments and the courts — that help balance the authority of one government.
It’s a completely different situation with the Canadian Wheat Board.
The sooner Canada begins to remove politics from so many of its industries, the better, and giving farmers the freedom to sell their grain to who they want to is a great place to start.
— An editorial from the Prince Albert Daily Herald.