Ritz flags ‘flawed’ CWB vote

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OTTAWA - Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz today said the Canadian Wheat Board vote on the future of the prairie grain marketing agency is seriously flawed because even dead people got ballots.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/09/2011 (4172 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA – Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz today said the Canadian Wheat Board vote on the future of the prairie grain marketing agency is seriously flawed because even dead people got ballots.

In a letter to the editor sent this morning, Ritz calls the CWB plebisicte nothing more than an expensive survey which will have flawed results because the question is flawed and the ballots were sent to people who shouldn’t have received them including non-farmers, multiple land holders and even farmers who have died.

The results of the vote will be announced Friday but Ritz said they should not be taken as legitimate.

“The Board will announce results that give legitimacy to their travelling road show, fear mongering and defeatist approach to an open market,” wrote Ritz.

At the heart of Ritz’s missive is an argument about whether or not the CWB can survive without a monopoly. CWB officials say it won’t last long, that it won’t be able to compete with private grain companies because it doesn’t own its own infrastructure and that the only reason the board can get better prices for farmers is because they are the only outlet for buyers to get their hands on high-quality Canadian prairie wheat.

As such the question on the CWB plebisicite ballot was an either or – do you want to keep the monopoly or do you want to go to an open market system.

Ritz however argues the government is not shutting down the CWB, but simply offering farmers who want to sell their grain somewhere else, the abiilty to do that.

The federal government held a vote in 2007 with three options for barley growers – just the Wheat Board, the Wheat Board and other grain companies or just other grain companies. The government combined the results of the second and third options to achieve a majority of votes.

That vote question was also criticized by CWB backers who say the second option given is just not possible.

The Conservatives have wanted to eliminate the monopoly since coming to power in 2006 but haven’t been able to do because they did not have support from other parties in a minority Parliament. Now they have a majority and Ritz plans to introduce legislation this fall to eliminate the monopoly the CWB holds on the sale of prairie-grown wheat and barley.

Ritz has said before and in today’s letter that it doesn’t matter if more than half of farmers want to keep the monopoly, those that do not should not be told how to sell their grain.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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