Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/11/2011 (3406 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
AN unknown group of pro-Canadian Wheat Board farmers dumped a tonne of wheat in front of Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed's office Friday morning to protest the federal government's plan to end single-desk marketing of wheat and barley.
While another group of farmers spoke to Tweed's staff at about 9:30 a.m., a truck pulled up, passengers jumped out and dumped the grain, which is worth almost $300. They left shortly afterwards.
"We are concerned about the Canadian Wheat Board," said Ian Robson, a National Farmers Union Manitoba representative from Deleau, Man., southwest of Brandon. "We had a vote, held amongst farmers where a large majority supported the Canadian Wheat Board and we feel our member of Parliament should stand up for farmers. Stand up for democracy."
Robson said he believes Tweed and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz are "setting up a discount grain company replacing the wheat board."
"They want to say there's going to be a wheat board but they want to take control of our wheat board," Robson said. "Currently, the wheat board is in control of farmers and it's important to have representation of farmers' interests in the grain marketing... It's not possible for one farmer with an Internet connection to outdo the skills the wheat board has."
Tweed was not at his Brandon office when the grain was dropped off.
"I agree with the right of anyone to protest," Tweed said in a phone interview from Ottawa. "To me, it seems a little misdirected, but nonetheless they have a right to speak. I feel I have heard already that people were planning to come to my office for meetings that felt intimidated by the crowd."
Tweed said the government has heard from "most people" on the Canadian Wheat Board legislation currently in the House of Commons.
"I listened to the debate earlier on this week and sat in on the committee hearing itself," Tweed said. "Are the Canadian Wheat Board and its chairman, Allen Oberg, actually putting the interests of farmers first? They were offered an opportunity to have a board member chair the working group. They were asked to participate and they refused. Now they are complaining after the fact they didn't have the opportunity."
In response to the farmer protest, Tweed sent a letter to Oberg, requesting legal amnesty for the people responsible for disposing of the grain in front of his office.
"I certainly wouldn't want to sell it," Tweed said, noting it would be illegal for him to do so.
-- Brandon Sun