Will You Be Eligible To Vote in the Next CWB Election?

The federal government is proposing to change who is eligible to vote in the upcoming Canadian Wheat Board Election.  My understanding is currently that if you have or had a permit book you could vote.  The proposed change would require a farmer to at least deliver 40MT of production from one of the seven major crops in Western Canada within the last three years of an election year.  Land owners that cash rent would not qualify but crop share land owners would qualify to vote.

Stewart Wells wrote in the Star Phoenix that this possible change is really about ….

“These proposed changes do two things at the same time: take small producers off of the voters’ list even if they market their grain through the CWB and thereby help pay the costs of the organization, while at the same time add other larger producers to the voters’ list even if they do not deliver any grain to the CWB and, therefore, do not pay any of the costs associated with marketing or the election process.”

In a CBC story Stewart Wells was quoted as saying that the changes are really about taking away votes from people that understand the CWB…….

“This new offensive is designed to permanently take away the vote from thousands of people that understand the CWB. [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper’s strategy is clear €” first divide the CWB against itself by stacking the CWB board with partisan appointees, and then divide the farmers by creating artificial classes of producers and permanently taking the vote away from thousands of them,” Well charged.

SEE MY INTERVIEWS WITH LARRY HILL, CWB CHAIRMAN AND RICHARD PHILLIPS, GRAIN GROWERS OF CANADA BELOW.

Personally I would disagree.  In my mind it only makes sense to have the producers that are farming making the decision on who the directors are.  Some people are trying to make this into a pro-monopoly or an anti-board discussion.  To me its about the process of getting the people to vote who are actually farming and delivering crops.  In terms of this discussion, I could really care less about whether you are pro board, pro dual market or indifferent.  We need to fix the voting system requirements to make sure the real production stakeholders are accountable for the vote.  Lets keep the irrational right and left out of this discussion and drop our walls of contempt for each other for a few minutes and ask ourselves what makes sense.  Does it make sense that my grandfather who lives in a seniors lodge and only participates in the system by charging me cash rent and wouldn’t know what FPC stood for, gets a chance to decide who is elected a director of the Canadian Wheat Board?  My grandfather hasn’t farmed for twenty years. Yes he owns the land but he doesn’t care what crops we grow on the land, where I market them or who with.  He is detached from the system and the realities of today’s farmer.

You can hear more of my comments about this issue on SiemenSays.com from a discussion that Harry Siemens and I had yesterday.

I was fortunate to contact both Larry Hill the Chairman of the CWB and Richard Phillips, Executive Director of theGrain Growers of Canada.  I asked both men what awas their organizations position on this subject and why it makes sense or doesn’t amke sense to move ahead with the prosed changes.  I think you will find both interviews valuable in pproviding you more background on the subject no matter what your position is.

Richard Phillips talks about why the changes make sense to the Grain Growers of Canada
If you cannot see the below interview with Richard Phillips, Click here

Larry Hill, Chairman of the Canadian Wheat Board provides the CWB’s position on the possible changes to voter eligibility.
If you cannot see the below interview, Click Here

No doubt you are reading and listening to tonnes of commentary about this being about pro board or anti board.  Look at the facts and don’t drop it to that level of political bantering.

What are you thoughts?  Should the changes be made as proposed?  Should cash renters still have a vote?  Let your opinion be heard and write your comments below and inititate a debate on this change to voter eligibility.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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