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Ritz not the only farmer

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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.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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