On Monday, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture held a debate about agriculture in Ottawa with candidates from the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green Party.
During the debate the subject of the Canadian Wheat Board came up as was expected and a tense argument between Manitoba NDP Pat Martin, Liberal Wayne Easter and Agriculture Minister and Saskatchewan Conservative Gerry Ritz ensued.
Ritz said he believes farmers in the prairies should have the same right and ownership of their commodities as those in other provinces, which would mean allowing them to sell their wheat on their own not through the Wheat Board.
It is the position the Conservatives have advocated for years but have been unable to address because they do not have support from the other parties in the House of Commons.
In the exchange however, Ritz tried to claim the moral high ground on the subject by saying "as the only one of all of us up here who has lived within the wheat board area as a farmer I don’t understand where you get any credibility."
In fact Ritz was wrong.
The Green Party’s Kate Storey was in the debate and she and her husband own an organic farm near Grandview in Manitoba. Storey’s farm, Poplar Glen Organic Farm, produces certified organic beef, poultry and pork.
Ritz is not actually a farmer any longer. He used to have a farming operation in Saskatchewan but has not for many years now.
Storey did not correct Ritz during the debate.
Easter is also a farmer but his farm is in Prince Edward Island.
It’s likely Ritz said what he said to try and discredit both Easter and Martin from having legitimate arguments on the wheat board. Storey’s farm does not produce wheat so she isn’t directly associated with the Wheat Board.
In fact none of the five candidates in the debate currently are affected by the Canadian Wheat Board Act.
Interesting considering all seem to believe the wheat board farmers are the ones who should make the decision.