Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dion's democracy - The Canadian Wheat Board

Among the many lovely features of economic life in Canuckistan are its totalitarian agricultural marketing cartels. These cartels, or 'marketing boards', are legally enforced monopolies which act as single buyers for specific farm products, setting production quotas as well as prices. Farmers must, by law, sell to the marketing boards. Violators risk fines and jail.

This draconian system of marketing is, naturally, controversial. The new Conservative government has been attempting to curb the power of the Canadian Wheat Board over opposition objections. And this week Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl, fired the CWB President because of his intransigence on the issue. Liberal leader, Stephane Dion has been gaming the situation and making strange noises. So I sent him an email:
Dear Mr. Dion,

Re. Your position regarding the Canadian Wheat Board.

You are quoted in this Globe and Mail story as follows:

"We have a democratic process, and the government is jeopardizing this democratic process. It's an additional reason why we must condemn what the government is doing," Mr. Dion said.

First, what is "democratic" about forcing farmers to join a marketing cartel they do not wish to belong to? Truly democratic choice would give individual farmers the right to decide how they sell their product - not be forced by law, under threat of jail, to sell it to one government mandated buyer. If the Charter doesn’t support this most basic of freedoms then it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Second, why should Western farmers be singled out for this abuse? Unless you are proposing to similarly abuse ALL producers including those in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes then I suggest that you, sir, are being spectacularly disingenuous.

You are respectfully encouraged to rethink your position on this matter with a view to supporting true democracy and to desist from purely political gamesmanship.


cc. Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl

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