Harper marks end of Wheat Board monopoly by announcing pardons


Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced full pardons yesterday for western farmers who were convicted for selling wheat to the United states in the 1990s, the Free Press reports.

Speaking from a media event at a farm near Kindersley, Sask., the Prime Minister and agriculture minister Gerry Ritz declared Wednesday “marketing freedom day” and celebrated the new federal legislation which ended the Canadian Wheat Board’s long-held monopoly on western wheat and barley sales.

As of yesterday, western farmers can sell their grain directly to whomever they choose, and no longer need to go through the board.

The pardoned farmers had been convicted of trying to to sell their wheat directly to the United States, without getting export permits from the wheat board. In addition to the pardons, Harper praised the “courageous” farmers, whose illegal sales first raised the monopoly issue in the minds of many Canadians.

“For these courageous farmers, their convictions will no longer tarnish their good names … it is to them that much of this victory is owed,” he said.


Harper marks end of Wheat Board monopoly by announcing pardons

  1. It was ludicrous that people were tried, convicted, and fined for selling their own property in the first place.

    • It was the law of the time and even if the reason was debateable (farmer’s are well set up at the public trough right now, who knows if a true free market without the board would have been better for them) there was a reason. For most CPCers, “law abiding” means following the laws they want to follow.

      I do praise you for not falling into the common trap of saying they were jailed for selling their wheat illegally, however, when they were jailed for not paying the fine.

      • I guess they believed that they shouldn’t be fined for doing what people in Ontario and Quebec were allowed to do just because they lived in Ontario and Quebec…..opt out of the wheatboard.

      • It depends on where the farmer is and what his operation is, which determines how much he is set up at the public trough. Prairie grain farmers pretty much lost the last of their subsidies with the crow rate in 1993. You could perhaps call Crop Insurance and Income Stabilization feeding from the public trough, but the former is insurance and the latter would be less necessary if the government would return to farm income taxes being collected as an average of the income derived in multiple years. Though I suppose most farmers are becoming corporations these days to take advantage of a corporate tax rate.

        As or following laws, sorry but an unjust law is not a law. I am not a subject of a socialist state, but a free citizen, and the state has an obligation to treat me fairly.

    • More ludicrous than going into a business where they knew they could get fined if they sold their own property in the first place?

      • Yes, actually, particularly since a lot of them inherited the family business or were already in the business before it became illegal to sell their own property.

        But hey, what right do people have to choose their own line of work, right comrade? Why the hell can’t people just accept that you know better than they do how to run their business, and also accept your decision concerning what jobs they’re suited for?

  2. May I now breed cows, chickens & sell eggs & milk directly to market / US without worry – at least I will be pardoned eventually – even though I wuld not be allocated a quota under the Supply Management system?
    What a precendent set by the Cons!

    • You could ALWAYS BREED COWS. Beef has never been part of any marketing/supply management system. The wheatboard is “voluntary” in central Canada. So why the discrepancy…..why does a voluntary wheatboard work for central Canada but not for the west?

    • Hopefully, supply management of chickens, eggs and milk is next, so western Canada doesn’t continue to be frozen out of those businesses. The eastern provinces have monopolized those industries through the quota system long enough.

  3. Good.

  4. The sad part is that western Canadian farmers just handed over their selling monopoly and got nothing in return – Harper et al should at least of secured elimination or significant reductions in US farm subsidies, as well as favourable market access. Harper is such a poor negotiator!

    • The western Canadian farmer never had a monopoly, because grain prices are global, and Canadians do not grow enough crop to influence the global price of wheat and malt barley merely because the CWB is selling from a single desk. After all, it isn’t like the CWB was buying grain from farmers and storing it or paying farmers not to grow wheat until the prices went up (like in Operation LIFT). The grain still moved and the grain still sold, no matter what the price was.

      Largely then, the CWB provided no market advantage, but still expected to take a slice of the profits. The CWB had no compulsion to change or innovate so that they could provide a market advantage when the global market changed, because people had to do business with them or be hauled into court.

    • Ted, if this was such a good idea why was it not in force for the whole country.

      Look into the history of the board and why it was put into place and you will see that it was meant to make the western farmers tow the eastern line.

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