Want political change? Talk to a farmer - Macleans.ca

Want political change? Talk to a farmer

It’s worth remembering that the moral case against the CWB was driven home by civil disobedience


In parks and public squares across the land, Occupy protesters are bivouacking in the name of social justice as the mercury dwindles. On Parliament Hill, MPs are battling in comfort over the fate of a bill to chop up the Canadian Wheat Board’s “single desk” control of wheat and barley exports.

Unrelated phenomena? Maybe. But it’s worth remembering that the moral case against the CWB was driven home by civil disobedience—in particular, by Manitoba farmer Andy McMechan’s 1996 cross-border protest trip with a wagonload of his own wheat. That jaunt fuelled the growth of activism against the Wheat Board and inspired dozens of imitators (among them a pro-liberalization CWB director, Jim Chatenay).

When it comes to Bolshevik-like bloody-mindedness, there probably isn’t an Occupy protester on the continent who can hang with McMechan. Other farmers had been thumbing their noses at the board and accepting small fines for a while; before McMechan the whole thing was almost an intramural game, a kitten-fight between anti-CWB farmers and authorities who were still improvising a hitherto-unneeded enforcement system. The Wheat Board, the feds, and the Mounties were itching to make an example out of somebody. McMechan gave them one, crossing the border and refused to surrender his tractor to customs officials. He was arrested, convicted, and, after some unseemly judge-shopping by the prosecution, jailed.

He spent 155 days in prison, living on a cell block with murderers. When the Crown brought him to his bail hearing with shackles around his ankles and wrists, he made sure the photographers could see them. He counted every strip-search he suffered in prison; there were more than 50. Every little humiliation was faithfully recorded and passed along to the Farmers For Justice group (along with Amnesty International, though they never took much notice), and from thence to the western media.

It has taken a long time for the political preconditions for a voluntary Wheat Board to come about. McMechan’s gesture of civil disobedience, along with the many that followed, ensured that the issue would stay at the top of the agenda throughout the intervening years. Have you been wondering why the issue of dairy supply management doesn’t bestir Conservatives the way the CWB does? It’s because nobody’s going to jail anytime soon in the name of slightly cheaper cheese.

McMechan pulled back the veil of Wheat Board monopoly power and demonstrated the violence behind the “single desk” euphemism—inflexible, exaggerated violence, delegated to a secretive, unaccountable enterprise left over from a forgotten era of protectionism and paternalism. It exposed the absurdity of neighbours coercing neighbours into a politicized marketing scheme. And it thus put the liberalizers on the moral high ground, where they have remained. No one can take any pro-board argument seriously unless it deals straightforwardly with the individual farmer’s claim to dispose of the fruit of his labour as he likes: this is the McMechanist legacy. Imagine yourself in the boots of a moderate pro-CWB farmer watching the Wheat Board’s new “Steamroller” ad:

It is not as though the CWB supporter is entirely without intellectual ammunition. Certainly most of us would concede that a country has the right to police its borders and to regulate exports. But when the Wheat Board complains of oppression and coercion, of rough handling by the state, even the board’s advocates must feel a pang of embarrassment when they remember McMechan’s ordeal. The steamroller metaphor is self-mocking.

There are lessons in this history for the leftist protester. The Occupy movement is bristling with changes it wants made (I’m told we’re not supposed to call them “demands”); these changes won’t, and shouldn’t, happen outside the ballot box. The goal of protest in a liberal-democratic society must therefore be to advance one’s pet issue further ahead on the agenda of the sympathetic, for when they do attain power, and to weaken the morale of moderates on the other side. One must locate specific injustices rather than nebulous cosmic ones, confronting them and defying their perpetrators directly. Deeds will accomplish more than any amount of eloquence. And it should not be necessary to claim to be a majority (let alone a majority of 99-to-one); one individual suffices, where he has a true claim to our attention.

It’s not really clear, anyway, how an “Occupation” that is meeting no serious resistance from authorities anywhere is supposed to elicit sympathy. The main effect of the movement so far seems to have been an elaborate proof-by-demonstration that Canadian municipalities are incredibly respectful of political protest and fawningly deferential to the Charter of Rights. So…hooray?


Want political change? Talk to a farmer

  1. Great history lesson, how soon we forget!

  2. ‘the leftist protester’

    ‘won’t, and shouldn’t, happen outside the ballot box’

    ‘one’s pet issue’

    ‘specific injustices rather than nebulous cosmic ones’

    ‘Deeds will accomplish more’

    ‘a true claim to our attention’

    LOL still circling the wagons I see.

    • Do you have an actual point?

      • Yes, you are just avoiding it and fighting phantoms instead. In doing so, you’ve used up pretty much your entire collection of buzz words.

        They aren’t ‘leftist protesters’….this isn’t the 60’s and they aren’t hippies. It’s a cross-section of people from all age groups, and all walks of life.

        They aren’t interested in the ‘ballot box’.  A ballot box can only change things from party X to party Y…and it turns out party Y is no different and no better. In fact it may be worse.. People have been voting for years and getting nowhere….which is why many people aren’t voting anymore.

        There are lots of ‘pet issues’ in the movement, it’s made up of individuals after all….but the movement itself isn’t about pet issues….it’s about restructuring.

        That is not a ‘nebulous cosmic issue’….it’s large, definite and concrete.

        They aren’t going to be fobbed off by a few promises….which, as usual, won’t be kept, so they don’t put out ‘specific injustices’.

        It’s a totally non-violent movement….so ‘deeds’ while dashing and daring to some, aren’t about to give the police an excuse to move in with batons and tear gas. They are there to ‘occupy’, not break the law.

        To try and compare this to some farmer wanting more profit for himself, is to mistake a tree for a forest.

        They aren’t doing any harm to anyone, and yet people are attacking them, when there is no reason to do so. Free speech, free expression…all that. 

        This is about a system-change, a consciousness change, a thought revolution…not some protest about parking or whatnot….and it’s global.

        Globalization produces this kind of world-view change….so they aren’t likely to go away.

        • The Occupy protesters aren’t of the left. Got it. Thanks for your important and totally non-ridiculous point. (Also, representative democracy has totally failed, so we’ll just have to make political decisions based on who can sleep rough in a park the longest. Down with ballot boxes!)

          For the purposes of what I wrote, the only important thing about the anti-Wheat Board protests is that they succeded in the long run. I don’t see you disagreeing with that; I see you objecting to my personal politics. OK, objection registered; feel free to go about the rest of your day.

          • LOL thus speaketh a vested interest in the long-gone 20th century.

            This must be very hard for you….unfortunately it’s going to get a lot harder.

        • Ah yes, demanding a worldwide socialist order and the demolishing of free market capitalism. Oh, and while they’re at it, free money for a raft of purportedly disenfranchised identity groups and a denouncing of large corporations which had nothing whatsoever to do with Wall Street.

          Real cross section there, Emily.

          • Oh?  When did they do that?  ANY of that?

            Don’t make up shit.

          • The protests at the homes of the owners of (not publicly traded) Koch Industries has been big news all week. Are you really that late to the party?

            That wasn’t a big picture of Chairman Mao up at Occupy Toronto? Naomi Klein hasn’t been cheered when she spoke to protesters in New York? Occupy Toronto isn’t obsessed about how Indians used to wander past downtown Toronto before civilization arrived?

            Yes that’s right, everything you’re unaware of (intentionally or otherwise) is made up. Gawd, that must cover some 99.8% of the earth’s surface.

          • @twitter-16443491:disqus 

            Protests at the Koch Industries, a picture of Mao, cheering for Naomi Klein….so?

            Neither illegal, immoral nor fattening.

            What frightens you so about all this?

          • So, revering the biggest mass murderer in human history doesn’t strike you as immoral?

            That’s exactly what frightens me about you and lunatics like you.  You want to overthrow representative democracy, and replace it with people who gather under the image of a man who committed four Holocausts’ worth of mass-murder.

            You, personally, OriginalEmily1?  You are the moral inferior of David Duke.

          • @seethelunatic:disqus 

            Oh get over yourself and stop being silly.

        • Oh OK, now I get it – Thanks

        • Emily, you just revealled your prejudice – an occupier wants “system-change” but a farmer only wants “more profit for himself”.  Is it so impossible for you to believe that everyone wants the right to make better choices for themselves rather than have them rammed down their throats?  Why for instance is the wheatboard a voluntary option in Ontario but not in the west?

          • Mmm no, I’m explaining the difference between the two.

            One is small, local and for a minor specific change, and the other is profound, all-encompassing, and global.

          • >profound, all-encompassing, and global.

            Oohh. I’m impressed.

          • Specifically, both the occupier and the farmer want more profit for themselves. The only difference is the latter is begging for the chance to work for it, and the former just wants it hand delivered.

          • No, you’re just interpreting it to suit yourself, according to your own ideology.

          • I think you’re going a little bit too far here with the idea that that farmers chief concern is promoting the abstract value of market choice.  Almost certainly the ones against the wheat board think they have customers lining up willing to pay more $ (or that Harper will make up the difference in cash if there aren’t, and he very well may), the ones for it think their ability to reach customers will be harmed.  It’s almost certainly self-interest on both sides. I don’t blame them, if my livelihood depended on a farming business I would want what would put the most $ in my pocket from that business.  But let’s not pretend its anything else.

          • @john_g2:disqus 

            C’mon John, you’re smarter than that.

            These protests must really have you running scared.

          • I think you underestimate the sophistication of some of the farm operations that exist.  Some would like to take advantage of the current demand for organic grain products…something the CWB has no interest in promoting.  Yes, in the long run it will make money but it also is about the freedom to follow dreams and expand their businesses without being restricted by a paternalistic, unresponsive governing body.

        • It’s a totally non-violent movement….so ‘deeds’ while dashing and
          daring to some, aren’t about to give the police an excuse to move in
          with batons and tear gas. They are there to ‘occupy’, not break the law…They aren’t doing any harm to anyone

          Wow. Just…wow. Talk about willful blindness.

          Tell that to the family of the dead woman in BC.
          Tell that to the rape victims in New York, Cleveland, Kansas, Glasgow, Dallas, etc…
          Tell that to the people of Oakland, Seattle, Washington DC, Rome, etc…still cleaning up from the violence at those protests; Violence which we were told at the beginning by the protesters themselves was part of the Occupy agenda.
          Tell that to the crack dealers at Occupy Boston

          But yes, of course, we must remember…the Tea Party are the crazy dangerous ones.

          • Yes, you are willfully blind
            The woman in BC died of a drug overdose…her second in a week. Nobody killed her.
            In any large group of people there are bad apples who sneak in….they are now putting their own security measures in place, and women-only tents. Same with drug dealers.
            No, you weren’t told about any Occupy violence….sorry
            And the Tea Party comes armed to the teeth. They ARE the crazy ones.

          • No, you weren’t told about any Occupy violence….sorry

            Ladies and Gentlemen, Emily has spoken.

            You’re right Emily. I made it all up. There is no violence at the Occupy protests. It’s all a scam. The 164 million google hits and 12,800 Google News hits you get when you search for occupy protests violence? All part of the conspiracy I created. I planted them all. The YouTube video showing the Oakland violence? Yep, I made that up too. Pretty convincing eh?

            I don’t know how you found me out Emily, but great catch. Thank God you’re here to spread the truth on these boards.

  3. That being said, there are some important things to remember.  No one went to jail for selling their wheat – they went to jail for ignoring the Canadian justice system which required them to pay a fine – for treating the law as if it were something to be followed when and if they felt like it.  And these people were coddled in prison (i recall national post articles saying how guards cried when they closed the cell doors) to an extent someone like a G20 protestor could only dream of.  These aren’t people who took a moral stand and accepted the consequences of their actions, these are people who deliberately made it worse and then misrepresented the nature of what had happened.

    In the end they got exactly what they wanted – they can entertain slightly higher offers from US buyers, and the farmers this hurts will be bailed out by taxpayers’ dollars for long beyond the 5 years the Harper government is promising right now. 

    • As for fawningly deferential, I do kind of wonder if the debacle of the G20 has made police a little more thoughtful about how they react to large groups.  If so, it’s a positive development that shouldn’t have had to been corrected in the first place.

    • In what sense are they not “people who took a moral stand and accepted the consequences of their actions”? (They went to prison, and it wasn’t for an afternoon.) I don’t see how that follows, nor do you offer an example of the “coddling” they received in prison.

      • Because they lied repeatedly – to their families and children, to anyone who listedned – about why they were in jail.  I guess they felt they could puff themselves up more by saying “I was sent to jail for selling my wheat to whomsoever I chose” rather than “the government didn’t have the authority to put me in jail for selling my wheat in the manner I chose, but when I refused to pay a small fine, I was imprisoned, lest anybody simply be able to get away with any kind of minor infraction without any consequence at all.” Worked like a charm – you could calmly explain to many a westerner the effects of contempt of court for refusing to pay a fine, and they would still angrily scream themselves hoarse about how farmers were being put in jail for selling their wheat outside the board.  I actually have some sympathy for their plight – to the extent I’d be willing to scrap the monopsony if farmers were overwhelmingly in favour and they understood there’d be no bailout if their actions had different consequences then they hoped for  – but I have little time or respect for disingenuous arguments of that nature.

        As for specific examples you are right, but I wasn’t there.  All I am going by is the account from your own old newspaper about the guard breaking out into tears when he ushered them into their cells

        • I think I get your point, but how do you make the distinction between resisting an unjust law and resisting the means of its enforcement? That’s how civil disobedience works. This is *exactly* like saying “Oh, Thoreau, that guy was just a tax evader. And Gandhi—nice little scam HE had going with the homemade linen business, am I right?”

          • The big distinction for me is if you could have avoided jail by a fine and you choose not to pay the fine, you can’t say you were sent to jail for the original act itself.  At that point, it’s not the “unjust law” which is drawing the consequences you’re suffering.  Many a person who engages in acts against the state isn’t given that intermediary step and is jailed immediately, and trying to paint yourself as in the same boat rankles me.  By all means, pay your fine under protest, call the newspapers, etc..

          • Sorry, I really think you’re missing the “disobedience” part of “civil disobedience”. Fines are ultimately enforced by the threat of imprisonment; any qualitative ethical distinction between them is imaginary.

          • Not in the least, and saying so is insulting to those who engage in acts of civil disobedience for which they cannot avoid jail.  The farmers could have easily sold their wheat in the way they did AND avoided prison. Everything beyond that was thier own deliberate choice. I know they want to pretend otherwise.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be adamant about saying I went to jail for selling my wheat, not I went to jail for refusing to pay a fine after I sold my wheat.

          • @a5a833b9aba464b59797f8ebdc5e949d:disqus 

            I think you’re missing the point of civil disobedience which is to refuse to comply with an unjust law. If you pay a fine, you are complying. That is obedience and it’s precisely what you’re trying to avoid.

      • One of the principles behind the CWB is that ALL grain farmers will receive the same price for their grain regardless of where their farm is located.  I belive this “protector” conveniently happend to farm with a mile or so of the US border, so he was willing to take a higher price for his grain, and wants all other farmers to accept less for their grain.  His protest is basically self serving. 
        In addition, I’ve read very reliable comments saying it is very probable that these people were financed under the table by corporate grain companies. 

        It’s nonsense to compare these folks to the Occupy protesters. 

        • Why, because the anti-CWB protesters are bad and corporate and selfish and the Occupy protesters (like, say, the graduate students who want their student loans effaced from the ledger) are saintly and selfless? The right or wrong of the respective causes are not the point of my piece.
          (And, by the way, since your first paragraph is completely correct, why do you also need a conspiracy theory about “corporate grain companies” paying people to do what is in their interests anyway? Let me guess, you’re a 9/11 truther too?)

        • Oh wait….if all grain farmers receive the same price for their grain no matter where their farm is located why is it that ONLY farmers located in western Canada are forced to sell to the CWB, while those in Ontario and Quebec have a voluntary wheatboard?  Why is it self-serving for a prairie farmer to see to whomever he wants but not self-serving for a central farmer to do so?

  4. Thus speaketh for the long gone Canadian Autumn unfortunately its gonna get a lot harder.

  5. Seems CC would only be duly impressed by the occupiers if they actually chained themselves to something – maybe a steam roller, better yet drove  some tractors over the border to make their point. I don’t see what your issue is CC. Unless you’re simply stating your preference for some salt of the earth farmers over a bunch of spoiled mostly middle class failures…a kind of inverted snobbery.  You use the 99% and their lack of specific focus as a sort of self rightous billy club – what’s the matter, would you prefer to see some real ones, would that sanctify their cause a little bit more for you?

    • Like most Macleans.ca commenters, you refuse to believe there may be any useful analysis or even tactical advice in a piece written by someone you don’t agree with politically. I know this will never change: what I wonder is whether I’m suppose to LIKE spoiled middle-class failures who’ve given up on democracy?

      • How is demonstrating ‘giving up on democracy’?  Surely you don’t think they’re anarchists?

        • “They aren’t interested in the ‘ballot box’.  A ballot box can only change things from party X to party Y…and it turns out party Y is no different and no better. In fact it may be worse.. People have been voting for years and getting nowhere….which is why many people aren’t voting anymore.”

          • Yes, and when you see genuine democrcy and freedom in action, it freaks you right out.

            Why is that?

          • Based on voter turn out, that view seems  pretty mainstream.  Change is what is needed and I believe what the Occupy movement is about. 
            Whatever your politics are, I don’t how anyone can defend the status quo. 

          • Fine. But don’t complain when someone accuses you of contempt for representative democracy, since that is exactly what you are agreeing with.

          • @colbycosh:disqus 
            Say what – now I’m an anarchist for pointing out there is a general malaise amongst  the electorate?  Wow, you’re even more reactionary than I thought.

      • Not true. What a bizarre come back. If you care to examine my record you’ll find numerous instances where i have taken something on offer from someone i may disagree with politically. Your point about the irony of the pro CWB’s adds was taken as given – life is full of such ironies –  you simply assume too much[ perhaps i do too]. And no i don’t think you’re supposed to like a group you seem to agree are spoiled failures[ i don’t think they are all just spoiled failures] and opting out of the  democractic process.[ some might argue their simply pointing up the failure of the democratic process] 
        I just don’t accept as proven your assertion that one farmer’s protest was somehow more virtuous then that of the 99 per centers.

        • The point was its success, not its virtue.

          • Well ok. But the occupiers story is still running, noone knows what may constitute success in their case. If it should lead to a Robin hood tax will it be a failure then? 

  6. Occupy Canada is a joke.  They gave a list of 60 ‘demands’ – yep, from shutting down the tar sands, nuclear, NATO and Keystone pipeline to free post-secondary education; from an investigation of 9/11 ‘false flag’ event to nationalizing Canadian banks with interest rates capped at 1%.   Oh ya, #53 – someone please tell them we have been growing industrial hemp in Canada since 1996.
    Anyway looks like Mayor Moonbean is finally being forced to do something after the OD death yesterday in Vancouver. 
    More info on the OD from Thursday – guess he was just visiting and now gets to use our ‘free’ healthcare.
    “Leah, an Occupy medic who refused to give her last name, said she took the man who overdosed on Thursday to Vancouver General Hospital after he was discharged just three hours into his hospital stay there.
    Leah said the man, who is an American citizen with an amputated leg, was admitted to VGH’s emergency ward after six hours of waiting. She said social workers visited the man and he is now in a detoxification program.”

    • Mmm one person’s draft doc is not the Occupy movement. Sorry.

        Oh I forgot – it is only valid to you if it is in ‘wikipedia’, lol!!!

        • And snarking at me won’t help your understanding one bit, so kindly don’t waste everybody’s time.

            Ha!   Now you are the self-appointed Macleans comments moderator again huh???

          • Like I said, attacking me won’t help your understanding.

    • And we get accused of stereotyping?

  7. The farmers that went across the boarder with wheat didn’t have an export permit, and failed to disclose the contents of their trucks, so their trucks were impounded.

    They then proceeded to remove their trucks from the customs compound without permission, which is the offense they were charged with.

    So this was all political grandstanding for which they could have paid a fine, but chose jail instead for political reasons.

    • ….which worked.

  8. The CWB has no authority to charge any body with anything, it would have to be the Customs Agents or someone else.

    • The CWB doesn’t have to do anything. It has numerous interests looking after it including the Customs Agents. Even Ken Dillen a brave supporter of freedom wasn’t safe. There has never been a satisfactory explanation or investigation of what happened to Ken. It would seem the violence against Ken worked as Ken was silenced thereafter. Ken was an active supporter of marketing freedom until that day, and was working with Andy McMechan on that fateful day. This is the day that farmers stopped and thought about their families safety. This is the day that I was really worried about my families safety and the day the CWB won a victory although only temporary.See the following:Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 01:49:27 -0600 (CST)
      From: “Ed Sieb”
      Subject: Prairie Centre Journalist Brutally Assaulted In Melita MB

      Prairie Centre Journalist Brutally Assaulted In Melita MB
      Left For Dead Outside Hotel
      Ken Dillen is a columnist with Regina based Prairie Centre For Agriculture.
      A former MLA, he has been actively involved in investigating and publishing
      information regarding the CWB monopoly for several years.
      On Tuesday November 19th he was meeting in the S.W. Manitoba area with
      farmers who had been prosecuted by the CWB and spent time in Jail. Ken was
      reviewing some of the stacks of documents he had received from the Access To
      Information Commissioner with Andy McMechan of Lyleton and Bill Cairns of
      Tilston. Some of these documents implicate very powerful people and would be
      damaging to the CWB.
      Later that evening he was having a meeting with Bill�s son-in-law at the
      Melita Hotel. Ken was last seen talking to the hotel manager at about 11 pm
      before returning to his hotel room.
      Some time later that night, Ken was struck from behind with an expert blow
      with a sharp heavy object that would likely have killed him if it had been 2
      mm over. He was possibly on his way to his vehicle but he was found with no
      shoes or jacket. The hotel security cameras were knocked out.
      Ken made it to his vehicle where he lost consciousness. He was found several
      hours later and remained in a coma for 2 days in a Regina hospital. He has
      since regained consciousness intermittently but has only regained 20% of his
      brain function. A great deal of fluid remains.
      No theft occurred. There was no altercation in the hotel. The other patrons,
      of whom there were only 4, are not involved. Ken is not known to have any
      other relationships in the Melita area.
      The RCMP is not treating this as a criminal investigation. The file on this
      incident was transferred from Melita to Virden 2 days later. It is not known


  9. Colby, to give a complete account of “Manitoba farmer Andy McMechan’s 1996 cross-border protest trip with a wagonload of his own wheat.” you have to go back and look at the National Citizen’s Coalition’s efforts on this file before, and after Stephen Harper moved there in 1997.

    I’m pretty sure NCC was supporting his protests before the 1996 effort, and he had previously been fined or blocked or something before 1996.

    Would the dismantling of the CWB come about w/o the NCC and Harper’s hands on support culminating today?

    Doubtful. Hence not a good comparison.

    • 14 farmers going to jail hardly constitutes it a Harper or NCC push. Simply put Prime Minister Harper and the NCC stand for principle, something in very short supply these days!

      • But Harper defends supply management when he’s in Quebec, so what principle are we talking about here?

        • The principal of freedom. I have never heard of a farmer from Quebec going to jail to defend the right to sell outside the supply management system.

           The “Supply Management” is not at all like the CWB monopoly. The “Supply Management” system is a monopoly against consumers where the CWB monopoly is a monopoly against farmers. I don’t necessarily agree with “Supply Management” but am glad that Harper agrees that wheat and barley farmers need the freedom to sell their production. Why should a wheat or barley farmer have to accept this unfairness just because the Quebec farmer likes his position? All farmers are not alike.

           The difference is that “Supply Management” guarantees an average cost of production for farmers plus profit, whereas wheat and barley farmers have no such protection. Canada has an excessive production capability in grains and has to export most of the production and cannot control the price as the CWB would like you to believe. IN fact Canada only produces about 4% of the total world wheat annually, so how can they they get any premium that they claim they get? 


           The CWB is under no pressure to sell our production at any minimum price. Just imagine working for 1 1/2 years not knowing what your salary is going to be…. This is the system that we have to work under. We have to decide how much to spend on fertilizer, weed control, crop insurance, seed protectant, land rent, machinery, grain storage, disease control, flood control, hail insurance without any idea what price our production will bring. In an open market there are tools to sell 100% of the crop before it is seeded.

  10. Every admiration for the courage of  Farmer McMechan in defence of his  commercial liberties.
    Spare a thought in this Remembrance Week, for Ottawa Centre (where I work)  mathematician/veterans of WW2 * (RIP Hobson, Kroeker, Tyas, Parry et al) defending the Crown against theft and waste, and manslaughtered by their deputy ministers (noted exceptions of principle, intelligence and truth, 1961-2011) 
    *   http://maths1951.wordpress.com   Recover $7.3 billions from thieves.     Examples
    Exile to violent death * in UK of P.Tyas, Industry Canada  (British Army,1944 D-Day), et al and repeated flights to overseas sanctuary * wives and children.*
    External’s  monstrous meanness of confiscating (1985) * the Canadian passport of a WW2 navigator (Navigation school, RCAF Rivers, Manitoba, 1944) then Brussels to Berlin 1945.*
    The violent death in Ontario  of G. Parry, limbless from Royal Navy bomb disposal WW2 ( “I awoke in the next field” he told me).
    With 98% of mathematically challenged media coverage devoted to 95% of  cabinet ministers/transient puppets (noted exceptions) of  criminally delinquent mandarins (noted exceptions) math is a  hazardous four-letter word in Ottawa Centre (where I work ).*
    Arnold Guetta, mathematician

  11. So where’s the valid draft? Nature abhors a vacuum, and so long as dude’s 60 demands are out there and the Occupiers demands are “not those ones, but totally coming soon” that’s all that’s left for debate.

    I’m really starting to tire of this. Every time a public face of the Occupy movement puts out horrible demands, or shows gross ignorance on a sign, or makes a fool of themselves on a video camera, we’re told “the majority is much more sensible”. Yet not only is this majority never heard from, but the movement itself never sees fit to toss out a press release or two from them. Guest speakers talk in vague terms about ‘injustices’ but are understandably loathe to mention specific ‘injustices’ (generally because these injustices either don’t exist or are perfectly reasonable TO exist). Well let’s hear some specific problems. Put out a list of things that Occupy wants changed. I know you’re scared to (because of the well-deserving mocking the demands have engendered so far), but either do it or pack up your tents and leave the pot for the next defacators.

    • I know….really unnerves you eh?  LOL

      • The massive body count that always results when you and your ilk wind up with power, that’s what unnerves me.

        • Unmans and lowers your IQ as well I see.

          I’m not one of the Occupy protesters, so you can stop hiding under your bed.

  12. Just get rid of the thing (CWB), release those of us who have been held hostage for so long. Thank you, Minister Ritz for keeping your eye on the prize.

  13. Good post Colby.  It’s the most bizarre protest in history, nobody knows exactly what they are calling for (other than free money), there is essentially no resistance.  It’s the most pointless protest.  They just come across as a bunch of lazy yahoos who are commandeering public property to be noticed.

  14. There is no malaise amongst the electorate.  There are people on the left who don’t like losing, and rather than admit they lost and fight for another day, they would prefer to make the claim that they did not lose at all. They do so by claiming the system is broken, when in fact it is working the way representative democracies are supposed to work. They don’t even stand for anything in particular, as pointed out by Colby, they simply stand in negative reaction to those they disagree with.

    • Welcome back scf…you have been missed!

      • Well thank you very much!

  15. Re
    “To try and compare this to some farmer wanting more profit for himself,
    is to mistake a tree for a forest.” 

    You couldn’t be more wrong!!
    Try and familiarize yourself with the issue before spouting off ignorant
    remarks. The farmer in this case just wanted the freedom to market his own
    grain, nothing else. It has more to do with making a living than increasing
    profit. You assume profits come easy in farming. Your ignorance is coming
    through very well! You have obviously swallowed the propaganda put out by the
    Canadian Wheat Board, a monolithic monster that has grown to this parasite that
    preys on productive farmers. When they tried to organize a rally of thousands
    of farmers in Winterpig last week, they could only come up with a few hundred
    people made up of union supporters, CWB employees and a few aging
     farmers. The CWB has no moral ground and everyone knows it! 

    As a farmer who helped Andy McMechan  haul some of his barley to North Dakota so he could
    pay his bills I can vouch for him and his family being very hardworking honest farmers trying to make a living. They lived modestly and were easy pickings for a government bent on keeping their scheme intact.

    I don’t believe it was an accident that the “War Measures Act” that put the CWB Monopoly in place and worked wonderfully for everyone except the farmer, wasn’t repealed. Once in place vested interests made sure it wasn’t removed. “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Wheat_Board” of

     By standing up to the tyranny of the CWB I know  Andy and his family endured more hardship
    than you can imagine. As a farmer who will now benefit from his sacrifice I am
    forever grateful for  his sacrifice in going to jail rather than accept a wrongful punishment. As one of many farmers who paid $1000 for the crime of carrying one bushel of barley across the border at Coutts Alberta rather than go to jail I can assure you many farmers support Andy.

    In fact 13 farmers from Alberta went to jail rather than pay this $1000 fine.  I am forever grateful
    to them too. I salute all farmers who made the effort to fight for what was right and also the media  and present governments of Canada, Saskatchewan and Alberta who were slow to respond but deserve much thanks for looking through the chaff and seeing the truth.

    Hundreds of farmers have fought for this freedom behind the scenes, many having their trucks seized and impounded  by the Chretien Government while Ralph Goodale, minister of the CWB at the time was ruthless in his desire to destroy any farmer who dared challenge the Canadian Wheat Board. 

    Prime Minister Paul Martin who owned Canada Steamship Lines stood to benefit from this continuing  situation presumably agreed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Steamship_Lines

    Sadly many farmers who were extremely active in this fight are no longer with us, so I truthfully hope their families can find some comfort in knowing their loved ones will not be forgotten and their effort made a big difference in this fight for justice.

    The late Art Mainil of Benson, Saskatchewan was tireless in his fight to break this tyranny. Here are some of his last words:


    The Edmonton JournalSun 03 Nov 2002 
    Page: A10 

    By Lorne GunterJail. Thirteen Alberta farmers are in jail because they dared challenge the grain-sales monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board.Ottawa doesn’t defend this nation’s borders against terrorists as vigorously as it defends the law forcing Prairie wheat and barley producers to sell nearly all their grain to the board.Agents of Hezbollah, one of the most vicious Islamic terrorist organizations in the world, operate freely in Canada, buying bomb-making materials, night-vision goggles and high-powered cameras for use in butchering Israeli soldiers and civilians.The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has proof that for years Hezbollah has sent bloodthirsty shopping lists to its operatives here and laundered money through Canadian banks to pay for these murderous supplies. The Liberal government is afraid of being called intolerant by Muslim voters and afraid of angering the multiculturalism and immigration lobbies; it sits idly by.Another two dozen known terrorist organizations have operations in Canada, but Ottawa cannot bring itself to label them terrorists because of concerns about their Charter rights.Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, who seems to have met few terrorists he didn’t admire as “freedom fighters,” admitted this week that “clearly there are very important Charter considerations,” before Ottawa can add a terrorist group to its list of banned organizations. Until then, its agents may come and go as they choose, fundraise, file refugee claims, buy weapons, apply for welfare, receive legal aid — all with Ottawa’s tacit blessing.But try selling a truckload of your own grain without approval from the wheat board, and wham — just watch the helicopters and squad cars swarm.Admittedly, the wheat board didn’t order the 13 farmers to jail. A judge did that. But it is curious that board chairman Ken Ritter felt the need to point this out in an open letter to Prairie farmers Oct. 22: “The CWB has no say and no control over sentences that were determined by the Customs Act and by judges in a court of law.” Immaterial, but true.Chairman Ritter (has kind of an appropriate ring to it, doesn’t it?) added, the farmers were “not charged for exporting (grain) without a licence. Their offence was to remove vehicles that had been seized by Customs officials.”He also felt, it should “be made clear that the penalty assessed by the courts for the farmers’ infractions was not a jail term — it was a fine.” The farmers chose to serve time rather than pay.Both of Ritter’s latter two points are technically true, but they obscure the central reason the farmers were in trouble in the first place: They tried to sell their own grain, freely, on the open market, and that is something the sclerotic, draconian, socialist wheat board will not tolerate.It is only because the wheat board and the Liberal government are so vehement about making every Prairie farmer sell nearly every bushel of non-feed wheat and barley to them, that Customs officials seized the farmers’ trucks and trailers.Chairman Ritter pretends the board was almost an innocent bystander, watching powerless as Customs confiscated the farmers’ vehicles and crops, and then helplessly watching the trial.Spare us, please. Absent the board’s adamance, Customs wouldn’t have been involved, vehicles wouldn’t have been seized or removed. Charges would never have been laid, or a trial held.It is only because the board, perhaps the most retrograde public institution in the country, will allow no deviation from its monopoly, entertain no marketing reforms, discuss no freedom of choice for producers that the 13 farmers are in jail — period. Customs and the courts are not to blame. The law exists, and the board wants it enforced, so Customs and the courts have no choice but to do their duty.The farmers are in jail because of the wheat board as surely as if Ritter had marched them to their cells himself.The board has a choice. It could follow the recommendations of the House of Commons agriculture committee and permit farmers to opt in or out of the monopoly. In a free country, that would be reasonable.But Comrade … sorry, Chairman Ritter dismisses this out of hand: “We’ve considered it and we’ve said no because it doesn’t work.”So how come it works in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces? There farmers may freely sell or export their grain to whomever they wish.There, producers are smaller than those on the Prairies. They have not been swallowed by giant grain companies. Nor driven out of business because they could not negotiate a price as high as the wheat board.Ritter’s argument on behalf of single-desk marketing is self-evidently specious.If Bill Graham ever wants to see real freedom fighters, he’ll find them in the Lethbridge Correctional Centre.http://fathersforlife.org/families/cwb.htm

  16. People are going to jail over raw milk, not over ‘slightly cheaper cheese”.

  17. Bit off topic CC, but why does this Nick Filmore have such a hate-on for Macleans and Andrew Coyne?
    “Occupy Canada movement unscathed by Maclean’s attack
    The right-wing Canadian media establishment unleashed one of its loudest barking dogs this week as Maclean’s Andrew Coyne tried to tear a strip off the Occupy Wall Street movement in Canada.
    Coyne’s cover story acknowledged that anyone living in the United States would have “good reason to be ticked” because of the wide range of serious problems in that country, but then, talking about Canada, he cited dozens of often odd statistics to attempt to show that, except for the poorest-of-the poor, things are hunky-dory here.”

  18. Mr Harpar is once again doing things behind the back of Canadian and especially are farmers . Stop this back stapping on our famers and we need the Canadian wheat boad not the Americans or there hurge conglomerates . Let the farmers have a voice and stop giving the power to the Americans we are Canadians and our proud of small farmers . Do not put them out to paster and loose there farms . Go farmes fight for what you think is right/. Pauline Granton