We reject your democracy and substitute our own - Macleans.ca

We reject your democracy and substitute our own


A majority of voters in a plebiscite have voted to maintain the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopsony.

A total of 62 per cent of prairie wheat growers – 22,764 farmers – voted to keep the monopoly versus 38 per cent – 14,059 farmers – who voted to eliminate the monopoly and be able to sell their wheat on the open market.

Just over half of barley growers – 51 per cent – voted to maintain the monopoly compared to 49 per cent who voted to eliminate it. The vote was held by mail-in ballot of farmers in the CWB area including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Turnout in the referendum was 56 per cent for wheat growers, 47 per cent for barley growers and 60 per cent for farmers who grew both.

The government responded last night with a note entitled “Statement from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on the Result of the Expensive Survey.”

“Our Government’s top priority is the economy in which the agriculture industry plays a vital role.

“We know that an open market will attract investment, encourage innovation and create value-added jobs.

“In an open market, every farmer will have the ability to choose how to market their grain, whether it’s individually or through a voluntary pooling entity.

“Let me repeat – every western Canadian grain farmer will have the right to choose how they market their grain just like farmers in the rest of Canada and around the world.

“No expensive survey can trump the individual right of farmers to market their own grain.

“Our Government is committed to giving Western Canadian grain farmers the marketing freedom they want and deserve.”


We reject your democracy and substitute our own

  1. Tsk…another thing Harper claimed a ‘mandate’ for.  This is going to be cute.

    • I really need the OE1 secret decipher ring – there is not a single reference in Ritz’ statement to the government having claimed a “mandate” to “dismantling the CWB”.  Must have been written in lemon juice.

      • I love the way Cons take one single statement, and claim that’s the entirety of the topic.

        Everything Cons have done since the election has been announced as having been given a ‘mandate’ by the electorate. No matter how far fetched.

        No lemons were harmed in the posting of this comment.

        • “The minister has repeatedly said the results of the May 2 federal election, in which the Conservatives won a majority of seats on just under 40 per cent of the popular vote, is the Harper government’s mandate to press ahead with their plans for the CWB.”


          • “I love the way Cons take one single statement, and claim that’s the entirety of the topic.”

            Unless my admittedly meager math skills are failing me, I believe you only posted one single statement.

            As for Harper Govt claims to having received a “mandate” to govern that you find so ridiculous, I suggest that, in the context of the CWB, the proper voter statistics to invoke would be the % the CPC got in Manitoba, Sask & Alberta.

          • And again, you chose one single statement for the entirety of the topic.

            Harper has claimed a ‘mandate’ on everything because of the election results….this means the wheat board as well.

          • And again, you ignore entirely the challenge to your latest obtuse and obsessive musing – that having been duly elected, Harper must not dare to actually implement the platform that won him the election because, as you and others point out – ad nauseum – the CPC only got 40% of the vote.

            Given your zeal to be dismissive, I’m not surprised you ignored my suggestion it is the % of the vote the CPC got in the only provinces in which the CWB operates that is relevant, so I’ll spare you the query – 62.  Not that that gives them a mandate or anything.

          • @GreatWallsofFire:disqus 

            LOL What?

            I have no sympathy whatever for the farmers….they voted Con.

            Votes have consequences.

          • You obviously don’t understand the Harper Mandate.  He basically asserts his right to do anything he wants to from coast to coast to coast.

          • “You obviously don’t understand the Harper Mandate.  He basically asserts his right to do anything he wants to from coast to coast to coast.”

            A marked difference, I agree, from, for e.g., Chretien.  But that more P.M.s with majorities would follow Chretien’s inspiring example of laid back conciliatory governance, unmarked as it was by even a hint of scandal or hard-ball politics.

          • LOL GreatWallsofFire,

            I usually just leave it be when Emily and someone get in to a back and forth, but I just had to comment when I saw your last post, as I just LOVE IT when Tory supporters point out that Harper is just acting the way Chretien always did, so WHAT’S THE PROBLEM???

            As I’ve often said, all that’s left for PM Harper now is to start speaking in a Shawinigan accent and the transformation will be complete!

          • You know LKO, it reminds me of the closing pages of Animal Farm, where the animals looked at the pigs and then looked at the humans, and could no longer tell the difference between them.

            The transformation is complete, indeed.

          • “As I’ve often said, all that’s left for PM Harper now is to start speaking in a Shawinigan accent and the transformation will be complete!”

            Harper still needs to strangle a guy, mock pepper-sprayed protestors and end a mandate prematurely, at a cost of hundreds of millions, purely out of vindictiveness.  Strange such an astute observer as yourself has so quickly forgotten the legacy.

            “You know LKO, it reminds me of the closing pages of Animal Farm, where the animals looked at the pigs and then looked at the humans, and could no longer tell the difference between them.”

            As odd as it is that a proggie is invoking Orwell to mock a conservative, I do give you credit for at least leaving Hitler out of it.  BTW, I presume Harper and his supporters are the “pigs” in your clever little analogy.

          • I really don’t know where “proggie” is coming from, save that apparently any criticisms of the Conservatives must imply one is a progressive.  I stated further down the thread I support dismantling the CWB.  I also support dismantling supply managment, which would be a consistent conservative view. 

            More consistent than the Conservative point of view, anyways.

          • We should keep that gem for when the NDP or the Liberals eventually win a majority. The howls of outrage there will be…

          • Yup, I don’t recall either party standing on ‘mandate’ nonsense.

          • Why look forward, when we can look back to 12 years of Lieberal rule from 1993 to 2006.  Really, it’s not that long ago – I can remember it like yesterday.  Seemed every other day, the G & M  or CBC or Star were chock a block full of stories about some Alliance/PC/CPC howling with outrage that Chretien/Martin didn’t have a “mandate” to do a danged thing, because they only received 35 – 40% of the popular vote.  In fact, I attribute some of my hearing loss to the conservative howls of that era.

  2. Would someone ask Ritz why “open markets attract investment, encourage innovation … ” on the Prairies but don’t perform same function in Ont/Que. 

    What occurs at Manitoba/Ont border that makes free markets in West work wonderfully apparently but treated with suspicion in East? 

    Bloomberg, Sept 2 2011:

    The European Union may refuse to open its market to more Canadian beef, pork and sweet corn unless Canada provides better access to its heavily protected dairy sector, a senior European diplomat said.

    The EU is “disappointed” Canada hasn’t offered any concessions for products shielded by its supply-management system, under which domestic farmers receive production quotas for dairy products such as milk and cheese, as well as poultry and eggs, said Maurizio Cellini, head of economic and commercial affairs at the EU delegation to Canada in Ottawa.

    Under the system, foreign products face steep tariff rates above an import quota.

    • I really don’t know what this comment is getting at in terms of free markets being treated with suspicion east of Manitoba… in Ontario, farmers are already free to market their wheat as they see fit.  The CWB monopoly only covers western grain.

      • And the free market only refers to wheat.  There is no other commodity that it could possibly impact on, such as, oh I don’t know, dairy products, just as an example.

        That was his point.  The Dairy Product marketing board is being vigorously defended by the Conservatives, as I understand it.  Which I think I like, because I’d much rather think of my milk and cheese coming from around here, than somewhere in Europe.  Just the idea of the distance travelled and all that.  But I’m not a farmer of wheat OR dairy, or anything else.

        • Yes, I do agree that was his larger point.

          I respectfully disagree on the benefit of supply management, although I understand where you are coming from.  My personal opinion is why should I have to pay $5 or higher for 4L milk in Canada when the same 4L can be bought in the U.S. for $2.50, and the reason for the increase is the implicit taxation on consumers imposed by the supply management system.

          What I think we both agree on is the duplicity of our ag policy demonstrated right now, in that why does the principle of free markets apply to grain, but not to milk/poultry/eggs?

          Can someone tell me how Ritz’s quote..

          “We know that an open market will attract investment, encourage innovation and create value-added jobs.”

          … does not equally apply to supply-managed sectors as it does to grain?

          • Shhh.  You’re moving awfully close to the line of common sense. 
            But the other part of that quote that I’d like more detail on is “create value-added jobs”  How?  In what way?  Hundreds of little salesmen instead of dozens of bigger salesmen?

          • American farmers are highly subsidized. Estimates are as much as 62% of their income comes from direct government subsidy. It applies across the board, not for just small low-income farmers but big corporate as well. That is why American dairy, for instance, is cheaper. American taxpayers are still paying by way of their tax dollar subsidy, but in a much less transparent way. 

            Marketing boards form the purpose of smoothing out seasonal and supply irregularities for benefit of both producer and consumer. Otherwise government has to bail out the producer in times of low or unstable income. Unless you want our country to import all our food, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

        • “Which I think I like, because I’d much rather think of my milk and cheese coming from around here, than somewhere in Europe.”
          If dairy boards were deregulated, you’d might be getting your milk and cheese from a neighbouring province, not Europe.  Commodity marketing boards restrict interprovincial trade for the most part.

          • Actually, I thought I was getting a lot of my cheese from Quebec now.  But that in some cases can be closer than somewhere else in Ontario, so it still fits my ‘around here’ description.

            Also, I should say that while we do love cheese we sort of take it as our special frill purchase(s), we don’t use much milk and very rarely buy butter.  So, the prices of these items aren’t as vitally important to us as they are to large numbers of my neighbours.  I was speaking personally there and not as a sort of ‘policy’ decision.  Mind you, thinking of it as a ‘policy’ decision, I’m not going to automatically just assume the free market is the better way to go without a lot more information!

      • Supply management is untouchable in Quebec.  It’s threatening the EU trade agreement.  So why the double standard?

    • Excellent point. Hypocrisy abounds.

  3. Those darn expensive surveys that do nothing useful!  They are so wrong!

    Unless they are the 2011 Household Survey portion of the census, of course.

    • It is a useless survey. It intentionally left out the “third-way”, which is a voluntary CWB (which would win with probably ~90%).

      It’s the equivalent of the 2011 Household Survey asking weather your families home has 0 or 400 washrooms. The results of such a survey would obviously be useless.

      • Pure nonsense, Rick.  The majority voted to maintain a single-desk system. A “voluntary” single-desk system is a contradiction in terms.

        • No, it’s not. Having the option to market as a group, or on you’re own, is quite different than being forced to market as a group.

          • Yes it is.  It’s not a single desk-system if you don’t have a single desk
            Voters overwhelmingly chose to maintain a single desk.

      • Yeah, please explain how a voluntary CWB would work in the real world. 

        • How would it work? How does a bank work? or a car dealership? or an ice cream stand?

          • A bank, car dealership and ice cream stand has their greatest asset as location.  Does it really matter to those who buy wheat where the ‘store’ is?  Do you think an ice cream store in Orangeville could compete with an ice cream store in, say, Wasaga Beach?  Do you think if Ford only had one dealership in each province they would sell the same number of vehicles?

        • It’s pretty simple. You either market you’re product on you’re own, or you sell it to the CWB, and get whatever price they’re willing to give you.

  4. Can anybody be really surprised that this is the reaction of the Harper Conservatives.  Their ideological actions run counter to what they said they would do.

    Short form of Ritz: “Democracy?  We don’t need any stinkin’ democracy.”

    • It’s a rigged survey. The CWB knows that a vast majority would prefer a voluntary CWB, not mandatory, not abolished. 

      It’s the same version of democracy they have in China, “Would you like to vote for Communist A, or Communist B”.

      • Sorry, most farmers aren’t as dumb as you appear to be. 

        Here’s a simple thought. If a farmer supports the mandatory CWB, why would they support a voluntary CWB?  It brings no benefit to them if other farmers can hop out, as it lessens the leverage the CWB can bring to bear.

        It seems that if you put the option of a voluntary CWB in the mix as well, the support for the mandatory CWB would stay the same, and you’d simply *lessen* the support for no CWB at all

        • You’re an idiot, and you have no clue what you’re talking about.

          • He’s an idiot?  The plebiscite asked do you support maintaining or removing a single desk marketing system for wheat, and you’re trying to argue that those who did vote to maintain it instead want a voluntary CWB… when that option was explicitly available to them by voting to remove the single desk system.

          • Rick was just having a little ragegasm at being caught lying.  There’s the shame of lying, coupled with the shame of dutifully doing so on behalf of the Party.

          • No, it was not explicitly available to them. Read the ballot! http://www.cwbvote.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Dycom-CWB-Wheat-Ballot-200389-SAMPLE.pdf

            The options were to maintain the status quo, or “sell all 
            wheat through an open-market system” which, to anyone who’s paying attention, would certainly imply that any CWB-type cartel would be outlawed.

          • No.  I’ll repeat.  As your link says, the choices were to
             to maintain a “single-desk system” or remove it.   There is no such thing as an “optional” single-desk system.   The moment you allow other buyers you don’t have a single-desk system.
            Get it, Rick?
            Growers clearly chose to maintain the monopoly.

          • I know you are, but what am I?

            Seriously though, that’s the best you could come up with? If you’re so sure of your assertion, by all means, prove me wrong. Show me how my logic is incorrect, or what my faulty assumption is, or even some sort of evidence that your assertion is the correct one. Because until then, all I get from your comment is that you simply have no ability to handle, or learn from, being wrong.

            Which must really suck considering how often it happens.

          • You really are thick! Of course they’d want to be able to opt-out themselves. As a Liberal group-thinker, I understand you can’t fathom the concept of respecting another individuals freedom as a way of extending their own freedom. 

            And do you think farmers are so stupid that they don’t realize, when the CWB is getting them less money than everybody else is getting on the open market (which happens all the time, btw), that by opting out they’d be able to earn more, and force the CWB to be more competitive. 

            I know you’ve never met a farmer before, but they’re not that different than anybody else. They want to have the option to make whatever decision is best for them. Having some government monopoly dictate the terms of their business isn’t in their best interest, and they’re well aware of it. They understand that the Cartel can be beneficial, but only if the Cartel has a monopoly over the market.

            You should really keep you’re fingers off the keyboard when you’re out of your league and blathering LPC talking points that make no sense. You certainly shouldn’t be telling those who understand the situation 1000x better than you “dumb”.

          • Aha! Now we have a claim for which we can search for evidence. Specifically that “the CWB is getting them less money than everybody else is getting on the open market (which happens all the time, btw)”

            So let’s do a quick google on “CWB price compared to free market price”, and just because I’m feeling generous today, I’ll simply hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” link which takes me to the first result.

            So what do we have here: Performance Evaluation of the Canadian Wheat Board.”

            Hmm, looking at this, it seems Rick, that your claim of “all the time” means, at best, “all the time that isn’t between the years of 1985 – 1994”

            That’s almost a decade of the CWB getting a price premium over the average price in the US.  The takeaway line: “Since 1985, the Canadian Wheat Board has delivered western Canadian farmers an extra $34.00 to $41.00 per tonne. For a producer with 1000 acres of wheat, that can mean as much as an extra $41,000 in income per year.”  So now that we’ve established your ignorance when it comes to actual facts, let’s see about that logic.

            “they’d want to be able to opt-out themselves”  Wouldn’t the people who think that be the ones voting sell all wheat through an open market system? Or do you think farmers are simply too stupid to realize that in an open market system they could choose to form their own collective?

            So who’s stupid Rick.. the farmers? Or you?

  5. 62 to 38? That 38 is almost majority content, right there…

    • In fact, it is. Of that 62%, I’d bet dollars to donuts that at least half would prefer a voluntary CWB to a mandatory CWB. But that option was never given on the survey. I wonder why?

      • I’m guessing you don’t see a lot of satire where you are…

        • My wife wears satire underwear, does that count?

          • Ladies and gentlemen, the comedic stylings of Rick Omen!

            But seriously, why not persuade some of those involved to hold your own CWB pleb? Elections are won by those who show up, and these guys all voted. Sure, they voted for the “best of the worst” options, but that’s what an election usually is, no?

            Reality is, most of the country doesn’t know what a Wheat Board is, any more than they understand milk quotas or the egg marketing board. As such, they see “farmers vote for this” and assume that’s how it is. Simply saying “I wonder why there was no CWB option” doesn’t help your cause, or inform the escaped manitobans like myself know what you’re talking about.

          • Why hold a plebiscite when farmers clearly voted for a Tory government that has made it quite clear for some time that they fully intended to dismantle the single-desk? I’m not going to go look at the numbers, but I’m pretty sure every single farming riding West of Ontario went Tory in the last election. And it’s not like this is some obscure issue that wasn’t top-of-mind for farmers, it’s their friggin’ lively-hood we’re talking about.

          • Because they’re all single issue voters, right? They all loved Ignatieff and Layton, but just had to make sure the CWB would be dismantled? Is that what you’re trying to argue now?

            Please, at this point even you have to realize how pathetic your excuses are looking.

          • Why believe your lying eyes that are showing you a clear majority voting to maintain the single-desk system, when wingnut math is telling you that the approx 23,000 farmers that voted to maintain the pool should have all voted against the  Conservatives, and their anti Conservative votes should have been enough to defeat Conservative candidates.
            Of course no actual supporting evidence is necessary when you’re doing wingnut math.

  6. It’s a rigged question, because the survey left out one vital option: A voluntary CWB. Were that option added, I can guarantee the results wouldn’t be pranced around by the CWB. They’ve been playing this same trick for years. Farmers know this, which is why when they vote, they vote CPC, and they know better than to trust the CWB.

    I also find it hilarious how there are so many Easterners who are vocally pro-CWB, but nary a peep about extending the CWB’s monopoly to the East. Why is it that Easterners think the CWB is good for Western Canadian farmers, but not good for Eastern Canadian farmers?

    • Your first paragraph certainly misrepresents what the plebiscite asked.  It asked should a single-desk system be maintained or removed.  A voluntary CWB would certainly be covered off by the latter, as a voluntary CWB would certainly imply removal of a single-desk system.

      Regarding your second paragraph, I agree there is a contradiction among those from the east who support the CWB given eastern grain is exempt.  However, in your words, I also find it “hilarious” how there are so many who are vocally anti-CWB and yet are pro-supply management.  Why do these people think supply management is good for Canadian farmers, but not the CWB?

      • You didn’t actually read the ballot, did you? http://www.cwbvote.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Dycom-CWB-Wheat-Ballot-200389-SAMPLE.pdf

        It clearly implies either a single-desk, or you’re completely on you’re own.

        • Yes I did read the ballot.

          “I wish to remove the single-desk marketing system from the CWB and sell all wheat through an open-market system.”

          Two points:

          1) This asks if producers want the single-desk powers of the CWB removed, NOT if the CWB should be dismantled althogether.

          2) A voluntary CWB would be one buyer among many in an open-market system.  If people wanted the option of a voluntary CWB, then they must want an open-market system and not a single-desk marketer.  Producers who preferred this would have chosen the second option on the plebiscite.

          • By using the term “open market”, they are explicitly suggesting that any type of cartel (ie. a voluntary CWB) would be illegal. 

          • By definition, a voluntary CWB would not be a cartel.  A cartel has single-desk powers.  A voluntary CWB would not.  It would be one buyer among many in an open market.  Just like the Ontario Wheat Board.

    • Why is it Western Canadian farmers think the CWB is good for them?

  7. LOL

    Shouldn’t that last sentence read: Our Government is committed to giving Western Canadian grain farmers the marketing freedom they want and deserve, whether they want it or not

  8. ….Please stand by for Two Minutes Hate.

  9. This is a test balloon –

    If it goes over well, they’re going to abolish elections – because really, in these tough economic times do we need an ‘expensive survey’ to tell us that Canadians want and deserve a strong stable Conservative majority (that’s totally in favour of individual choice, by the way.)?